Tokyo weighs scaled-back Olympics, says governor

Hungary’s Kristof Milak will be the breakout swimmer to watch at the Tokyo Olympics after breaking Michael Phelps’ 200-meter butterfly record at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships. (Reuters file photo)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Tokyo weighs scaled-back Olympics, says governor

  • Organizers face the headache of rearranging the event, which requires a costly rejigging of everything

TOKYO: Tokyo 2020 officials are looking at ways to scale back next year’s postponed Olympics, the city’s governor said Thursday, amid reports the opening ceremony could be streamlined and spectator numbers cut.

Yuriko Koike told reporters that organizers were weighing up what could be “rationalized and simplified” as costs spiral for holding the first postponed Games in history.

The International Olympic Committee announced in March the Games would be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and brought international travel to a virtual halt.

The Games are now due to open on July 23, 2021, but organizers face the unprecedented headache of rearranging the event, which requires a costly rejigging of everything from venues to transport.

Local media said streamlining plans could involve cutting the number of spectators and reducing participation in the opening and closing ceremonies.

The Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source as saying that everyone including athletes, officials and spectators would be required to take a test for the virus.

“The top priority is to avoid the worst scenario of canceling the Games,” an unnamed government source told the daily.

Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya declined to offer further details at a press conference later on Thursday, saying only that discussions were ongoing.

“At this stage we do not have any concrete outcome,” he said, adding that discussions about coronavirus countermeasures would be held “from this autumn onwards.”

“Concerning the spread of the novel coronavirus, particularly the situation next summer and how the world will look like is something very ambiguous,” he added.

IOC chief Thomas Bach said last month that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.

He declined to say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them behind closed doors.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it would be “difficult” to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.

And Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said the Olympics would have to be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t brought under control by
next year.


Bayern stuns Barcelona 8-2 to reach Champions League semis

Updated 15 August 2020

Bayern stuns Barcelona 8-2 to reach Champions League semis

  • Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig will play in the other semifinal of the mini-tournament being staged without fans in Lisbon amid the coronavirus pandemic

LISBON, Portugal: With four goals in the first half hour and four more in the last half hour, Bayern Munich humiliated Barcelona 8-2 on Friday to reach the Champions League semifinals for the second time in three years.
Thomas Müller scored twice and Ivan Perišić and Serge Gnabry added on in Bayern’s stunning start to the standout quarterfinal between the only past champions left in the last eight.
Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho (twice) piled on in the second half as Barcelona conceded eight for the first time since 1946.
Barcelona got on the board with an own-goal by David Alaba in the first half and a goal by Luis Suárez in the second among only seven shots on target.
Seeking its first title since 2013, Bayern will next face either Manchester City or Lyon, who meet on Saturday in the last quarterfinal.
Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig will play in the other semifinal of the mini-tournament being staged without fans in Lisbon amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The humiliating loss ended a disappointing season for Barcelona, one that included a coaching change and public disputes between players and team officials. It is the first time since 2008 that the Spanish club finished a season without a significant title. It hasn’t lifted the European trophy since 2015.
The commanding victory kept alive Bayern’s quest for a sixth title, which would move it ahead of Barcelona. It will be back in the semifinals for the first time since 2018 when it lost to Real Madrid in the last four. The German champion was eliminated by Liverpool in the round of 16 last season.
It is the first time since 2007 that no Spanish club has made it to the semifinals.
The result adds pressure on coach Quique Setién, who had already been criticized after Barcelona relinquished the Spanish league lead — and title — to Real Madrid after the competition resumed following the pandemic break.
Barcelona, which was eliminated by Liverpool in last year’s semifinals, hasn’t reached the final since the title run in 2015. It got past Bayern in the last four that year. The German club has the most wins against Barcelona in the European tournament.
In a hectic start at Benfica’s Stadium of Light, Barcelona paid for defensive mistakes against Bayern’s potent attack, which reached 39 goals in nine games in this Champions League.
Just four minutes in, Müller scored from inside the area after a breakaway that started when Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets gave the ball away at midfield.
Barcelona equalized three minutes later when Alaba found his own net while trying to intercept a pass by Jordi Alba to Suárez.
Barcelona had a couple of great chances shortly after, with Suárez’s close-range strike being saved by Manuel Neuer and Messi’s curling cross shot hitting the far post.
Messi also missed after a run into the area, and Bayern went back in front with Perišić’s powerful shot past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Bayern added the third and fourth goals three minutes apart after Gnabry beat Gerard Piqué to a pass into the area, and Müller completed a cross into the area after Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo conceded possession.
Suárez pulled Barcelona closer in the 57th, but Kimmich added the fifth goal after Alphonso Davies cruised past the Barcelona defense.
Lewandowski scored with a header in the 82nd, and Coutinho — a former Barcelona player who struggled at the Catalan club — closed the scoring with goals in the 85th and 89th minutes.
With his double, Müller reached six goals in five matches against Barcelona on the occasion of becoming the German player with the most appearances in the Champions League at 113.
Bayern also had a 53rd-minute goal disallowed for offside.