Olympics: Tokyo Games likely to be pared down, says JOC chief

By Jack Tarrant, Hideto Sakai,

TOKYO (Reuters) – The rearranged Tokyo Olympics are likely to be a pared-down version of recent editions of the four-yearly Games, Japanese Olympic Committee chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita said on Tuesday.

Japan and the International Olympic Committee postponed the Tokyo Games until 2021 in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, organisers have spoken of trying to simplify the event – which had been due to start in 10 days’ time – to reduce costs and ensure athletes’ safety.

“The Games (used to be) gorgeous and extravagant, which I experienced before…,” Yamashita, a former Olympic gold medallist judoka, said at JOC headquarters.

“But I don’t think the concept of these Games will pursue these things. The first priority is to be safe and secure.”

Yamashita, installed as JOC chairman in June last year in place of Tsunekazu Takeda, who is being investigated over corruption allegations, said the pandemic was also causing his organisation to suffer financially.

“In regards to the next fiscal year (the financial situation of JOC) will be quite tough,” he said after a difficult first year in charge. “…I think there is a high possibility that we may have to consider borrowing money.”

The situation under which a president of a host country’s Olympic committee is changed a year before the Games “shouldn’t happen,” he added.

Main photo: Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Yasuhiro Yamashita speaks to media during a news conference after the announcement of the games’ postponement to 2021, in Tokyo, Japan March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Naoki Ogura/File Photo

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