Tokyo Olympics will be safe, governor says

Next year's Olympics will be safe despite the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said, pledging a "120-percent effort" to ensure the first-ever postponed Games can go ahead. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 13 June 2020

Tokyo Olympics will be safe, governor says

  • Tokyo 2020 became the first Olympics ever postponed in peacetime earlier this year as the coronavirus marched across the globe
  • They are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021

TOKYO: Next year’s Olympics will be safe despite the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has said, pledging a “120-percent effort” to ensure the first-ever postponed Games can go ahead.
Koike — who announced Friday she would stand for re-election next month — said the city was committed to holding the event as a “symbol of human triumph” over the virus, but admitted it would be downsized.
“I will make a 120-percent effort,” Koike, 67, said in an interview with AFP, but declined to say how confident she was that the sporting extravaganza would open as planned.
Tokyo 2020 became the first Olympics ever postponed in peacetime earlier this year as the coronavirus marched across the globe, upending lives and forcing the cancelation of sporting and cultural events.
They are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021 — though they will still be known as the 2020 Games — but medical experts have raised concerns that the delay will not be long enough to contain the virus and hold the event safely.
Officials in Japan and from the International Olympic Committee have warned it will not be possible to postpone again.
Koike said she was continuing to “make all-out efforts in the battle against the virus to put on a Games that is full of hope.”
And she pledged an event “that is safe and secure for athletes and fans from abroad as well as for residents of Tokyo and Japan.”
Japan has got through the first coronavirus wave better than many countries, with just over 900 deaths out of fewer than 18,000 confirmed infections.
But it has faced persistent criticism for conducting relatively few tests that could understate the true number of cases.
Officials point to the comparatively low death rate as evidence that a recently lifted state of emergency — imposed in response to rising cases in April — and a public awareness campaign on social distancing have worked.
“Tokyo residents know that the summer Games next year in 2021 is not possible unless the impact of coronavirus calms down,” Koike said.
“That was among the things that pushed them to make these efforts.”
Japanese and Olympic officials have repeatedly said it is too early to tell how the pandemic will have evolved by the run-up to the rescheduled Games.
For now, Koike said “simplification and cost reduction” are the main planks of discussions, along with potential safety measures.
“What kind of (virus) tests and how? How much social distancing is necessary? These will depend on future discussions,” she said.
The final price tag of postponing the Games remains unclear and the delay has also rattled sponsors.
A survey this week showed two-thirds of Tokyo 2020’s corporate sponsors are on the fence about continuing their backing.
But Koike insisted the event would still be an “excellent opportunity” for sponsors and said she would be asking for their “continued support.”
The governor, who broke with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to run for the job in 2016, will stand for a second four-year term next month.
She has been mentioned in the past as a possible future prime minister, and in 2017 stunned the political establishment by forming a short-lived new party that was seen as a potential challenger to the LDP.
But Koike, who has described Japan as having not a glass ceiling for women but rather an “iron plate,” was tightlipped on whether she might one day seek to become the country’s first female prime minister.
For now, she said she is busy “preparing for the second wave of infections with the knowledge gained and experience earned.”


‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

Updated 23 October 2020

‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

PARIS: Gareth Bale said it felt good to be “loved and appreciated” after helping Tottenham to a 3-0 win over LASK of Austria in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Welsh international started his first match since his return from Real Madrid and played for an hour before Jose Mourinho gave him a break.
Bale had come on as a substitute last Sunday with Tottenham 3-0 up against West Ham before his team collapsed to give up a 3-3 draw.
“It is amazing to be back,” Bale told BT Sport on Thursday.
“It is a big reason why I play well and why I came back. You want to be loved and appreciated. I will give everything for this shirt.”
However, he admitted it will take time to find his feet.
“I am a bit stiff. It is like a mini pre-season for me and I am trying to get minutes into the legs,” he said.
Despite Bale starting, it was on-loan Carlos Vinicius who made an impressive debut in the Group J opener.
Vinicius started in place of the resting Harry Kane and he made goals in either half for Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min, while he would have also netted himself had Andres Andrade not scored an own goal.
Bale made that goal where Andrade put through his own net.
Leicester made the perfect start in Group G with a comfortable 3-0 win over Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine.
James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were on the scoresheet.
In Glasgow, Celtic struggled against Serie A leaders AC Milan who were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz.
Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the arrears after the break, but Jens Petter Hauge broke clear to secure Milan’s Group H 3-1 win in stoppage time.
Milan were so comfortable that they could afford to take off Zlatan Ibrahimovic just after the hour.
Earlier Thursday, Arsenal came from behind to down Rapid Vienna 2-1 and Rangers beat Standard Liege 2-0.
After a goalless first half Arsenal went behind when keeper Bernd Leno fluffed a clearance on a night he will want to forget.
Taxiarchis Fountas capitalized on Leno’s clanger, much to the joy of the 3,000 home fans allowed in to watch under coronavirus safety protocol, but the Gunners then turned the game around in four second half minutes.
David Luiz put them level with a deft glancing header off Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then tapping home to bag the three Group B points.
It was an eventful night for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Alongside eight yellow cards, there was an eye-catching display from Thomas Partey on his first start since his transfer deadline day move from Atletico Madrid.
A frustrated follower of the game from his London sofa was Mesut Ozil, who has been left out of both Arsenal’s Europa League and Premier League squad.
“When I can’t support on the pitch tonight, I will support in front of the TV in London.” tweeted Ozil.
The other Group B game was being played out in Dublin where Dundalk, only Ireland’s third ever representative in the group stage, were beaten 2-1 by Norwegians Molde.
In Belgium, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers took on Standard Liege fresh from their Old Firm derby win over Celtic which moved them four points clear in the Scottish Premiership last weekend.
James Tavernier scored from the spot after Noe Dussenne handled in the area to put them into a 19th minute lead.
Then three minutes into stoppage time Kemar Roofe produced a wonder goal from the halfway line, the ball flying over the head of bewildered keeper Arnaud Bodart.
Benfica had claimed the first goal of the night and they went on to beat Lech Poznan in Poland 4-2 in the other Group D game.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen ran riot 6-2 against French side Nice and Spanish side Granada, in their first ever European campaign, beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1.