Reuters Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto promised yesterday to revive the Japanese people’s passion for the Summer Olympics and “turn their concerns into excitement”.
Hashimoto, who took charge of the Games organising committee two weeks ago, directly addressed low support among the Japanese public for holding the Games during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She told reporters that organisers would do whatever it takes to make the Olympics safe and secure so that they could gain the confidence of the people, who showed strong support for the Games before the onset of the pandemic last year.
“The people’s passion was there. We want to bring back this feeling, so that we can turn their concerns into excitement and expectations for the Summer Games,” said Hashimoto, who competed in seven Summer and Winter Olympics as a cyclist and a skater.
“That requires us to do a good job on safety and security. So we will do whatever it takes.”
Her remarks contrasted with those of her predecessor, Yoshiro Mori, who had said Japan would hold the Games this summer regardless of the situation with the pandemic.
Mori’s remarks angered many members of the public who felt he was ignoring their fears about a surge in Covid-19 cases at the time.
Mori resigned last month after facing fierce criticism for making sexist remarks. Some Games volunteers quit and some runners withdrew from the torch relay in protest over Mori’s remarks.
Hashimoto said she would welcome back those who want to return and called participating in the torch relay, which begins on March 25, a “tremendous honour”.
An opinion poll published this week by the Yomiuri newspaper showed 58% of people in Japan oppose holding the Games this year, although that figure was about 20 percentage points lower than earlier surveys.
The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Paris to host rescheduled Olympic boxing qualifier
The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics European boxing qualifier will be held in Paris from June 4-8, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) has said.
Paris is replacing London, where the event began last March before being suspended amid the Covid-19 crisis. The BTF decided to move the event from London in January following a surge of cases in the country.
The BTF said that Paris had been selected “as part of its initial commitment to organise its events in the host countries of recent or upcoming Olympic Games, and because of the opportunity to continue to benefit from its already established relationship with the Local Organising Committee, which was originally entrusted to organise the now-cancelled final world qualifier.”
The BTF has been responsible for the qualifiers and the boxing tournament at the Tokyo Games after the IOC suspended the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) Olympic recognition over issues surrounding its finances and governance.
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