The polls could overwhelm them, but the Tokyo Games organisers are not lowering their heads. With less than 200 days to the event, when the Japanese public opinion is no longer making a secret of its distrust of the next Olympic meeting, the two bosses of the organising committee remain upright in their boots.
The Games will take place, they will not be postponed or canceled, assured Yoshiro Mori, president, and Toshiro Muto, general manager, hours apart. That is what is said.
Yoshiro Mori, the top of the pair and former prime minister, took advantage of an event hosted by Kyodo News agency at a hotel in the capital to cut off any idea of a new postponement. “It would be absolutely impossible”, he said, without letting a hint of doubt slip into his words.
But, surprisingly, the chair of the organising committee did not mention the additional cost of a second time lag, or the unavailability of some Olympic venues, to support his claim. He spoke of the men.
According to Yoshiro Mori, postponing the Games would be impossible as a large number of managers and executives who played a major role in the preparation of the event will no longer be available next year. They will have to return to their previous assignments, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Still according to Yoshiro Mori, the decision to host the Olympics in the presence of foreign spectators will be taken in the coming months. It could intervene before the beginning of spring. “I think we will have a very difficult decision to make in February or March”, he suggested on Tuesday January 12th.
Toshiro Muto, for his part, has chosen a more formal setting to wring his neck out of Japanese media speculation about upcoming talks with the IOC over the next month on the future of the Tokyo Games. The general manager of the organising committee did so during the greeting ceremony for the 3,500 employees of Tokyo 2020.
“When this kind of information comes to the surface, some people may be worried”, he said calmly. “I want to tell you that we don’t think that way at all and that these articles are bogus”. Understood.
Polls? Toshiro Muto read them. He knows the results, all clearly in favour of a cancellation or a new postponement. But the Japanese went through a perilous exercise in style to find an explanation for them and even, come on, give them a positive outlook. “The number of people asking for the Games to be postponed has increased a lot, but that means these people still want the Games to be held”, he suggested.
Toshiro Muto insists: “Of course, for the Games to take place, we have to ensure that we organise them with very safe measures against the virus. But if you all think this way, I firmly believe that more and more people are going to come around to this idea”.
While waiting for a change in opinion, which is still difficult to imagine in the current health situation, the Games organising committee wants to be a good student. Its leaders say they have asked the staff of the organising committee to work as remotely as possible, to comply with the measures imposed by the state of emergency. From a distance but without straying from the goal.