Joy, delay and torch relay: Tokyo’s turbulent Olympic timeline

Joy delay and torch relay Tokyos turbulent Olympic timeline scaled

From the unprecedented coronavirus postponement to final week’s choice to bar abroad spectators, the trail to staging the Tokyo Olympics has been plagued by obstacles.

As the nationwide torch relay begins, organizers are hoping it will possibly construct enthusiasm amongst a skeptical Japanese public forward of the opening ceremony on July 23.

Here, AFP chronicles Tokyo’s troubled journey from being named host metropolis in September 2013 to the Olympic flame lastly hitting the streets of Japan a 12 months late on March 25, 2021:

2013: Tears and cheers

Tokyo olympics hosting

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, fourth proper, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, fifth proper, and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bid Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, sixth proper, grip their fists with different members of Tokyo 2020 bid delegation throughout a kick-off ceremony of the Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. AP

News presenters shed tears and crowds erupt in delight because the International Olympic Committee names Tokyo host of the 2020 Games.

Thoughts flip to the victims of Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the Olympics seen as an opportunity to rebuild.

2015-16: Stadium and emblem ditched

Proposals for a brand new nationwide stadium return to the drafting board in July 2015 following public anger over the $2 billion price ticket.

As the Games stumble from one downside to a different, Kenjiro Sano’s unique Olympic emblem design must be ditched over its resemblance to the logo of a Belgian theatre. Sano denies plagiarism.

The following 12 months a brand new “snake-eye” emblem for the Games is unveiled.

2019: Payments probe, marathon change

French magistrates cost the pinnacle of Japan’s Olympic committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, as they probe funds totaling $2.3 million made earlier than and after Tokyo’s nomination.

Takeda protests his innocence however later steps down from the function.

In October, the IOC shifts the Olympic marathon to northern Sapporo to keep away from the capital’s sweltering summer time warmth — a shock transfer that infuriates Tokyo officers.

March 24, 2020: Historic postponement

With the coronavirus spreading quickly worldwide, Japan and the IOC make the historic choice to postpone the Olympics.

A brand new date is introduced for the opening ceremony — July 23, 2021 — however the occasion will nonetheless be known as Tokyo 2020.

Organizers later insist that there’s “no chance” the Games might be postponed for a second time.

December 2020: Extra prices, new guidelines

Anti-virus measures and different delay-related prices add 294 billion yen ($2.8 billion) to the value tag, which has ballooned to not less than 1.64 trillion yen ($15.8 billion) — making Tokyo 2020 doubtlessly the costliest Summer Olympics in historical past.

Organizers define plans for holding the occasion safely, with athletes dealing with common testing and restrictions on mingling, and spectators spared quarantine however banned from cheering.

The IOC says it can attempt to make sure as many individuals as potential are vaccinated, however jabs won’t be compulsory.

January 2021: Virus surges, assist drops

Tokyo Olympics

FILE PHOTO: Bystanders watch as large Olympic rings are reinstalled on the waterfront space at Odaiba Marine Park, in Tokyo, Japan December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan declares a virus state of emergency within the Tokyo area simply six months earlier than the Olympics are because of open. Other areas of Japan are added later and measures prolonged for a second month.

Polls present round 80 percent of people in Japan say the occasion must be canceled or postponed once more.

But organizers and the IOC insist the Games might be held with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga saying they are going to be “proof of mankind’s victory over the virus”.

February 2021: Sexism rows

Tokyo Olympics Seiko Hashimoto, president

FILE PHOTO: Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, speaks throughout a media briefing after a council assembly in Tokyo, Japan March 3, 2021. Kimimasa Mayama/Pool through REUTERS

Yoshiro Mori, chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, resigns after his claims that ladies discuss an excessive amount of in conferences spark a firestorm of criticism.

He is changed by Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, 56, a seven-time Olympian who’s one in all simply two ladies in Japan’s cupboard.

Weeks into her tenure, she accepts the resignation of Hiroshi Sasaki, artistic director for the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies after a report reveals he instructed a plus-size feminine comic might seem as an “Olympig”.

March 2021: Overseas followers barred

gymnastics olympics tokyo crowd fans

FILE PHOTO – Spectators carrying protecting masks watch athletes’ performances at Friendship and Solidarity Competition, the primary worldwide occasion at a Tokyo Olympic venue because the Games have been postponed in March because of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan November 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Organizers announce overseas fans will be barred from the Games to restrict virus dangers, marking the primary time the Olympics might be held with out international spectators.

A call on what number of home spectators might be allowed to attend is delayed to a later date.

March 25, 2021: Torch relay begins

Tokyo Olympics Torch Relay

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Grand Start torchbearer Nadeshiko Japan, Japan’s ladies’s nationwide soccer workforce, leads the torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan March 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

The rose-gold, cherry blossom-shaped torch is lit on the J-Village sports activities advanced in Fukushima, which served as a base for operations responding to the 2011 nuclear catastrophe, however no spectators are allowed on the launch

The flame will traverse the nation borne by 10,000 runners and passing by way of all 47 prefectures earlier than arriving for the opening ceremony.

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