Tokyo 2020: Bring on the cardboard fans

Published on January 21st, 2021

It was early March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was the dominant news, and professional sports in the USA was teetering. The NBA and NHL were soon to suspend their seasons, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was under pressure.

How could Japan welcome an estimated 600,000 tourists from around the world?

Before the decision was made for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to postpone one year, Scuttlebutt questioned why something irrelevant was impacting so much.

The Olympic Games are a “made for television” event, with the Rio 2016 Olympics attracting 3.6 billion viewers. Who needs fans? Why postpone the 2020 Games to protect 2/10000 of interested parties. A better solution was not to allow spectators.

Fast forward, 2020 was the year of hindsight, as professional sports persevered without fans, and now… finally… the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering that too.

The one year delay has already cost nearly $3 billion, and while ticket sales would account for $800 million in income for local organizers, not hosting a safe event will cost much, much more.

The IOC, never considered to be agile, is now a year later accepting a limit or ban for fan attendance may be needed.

“You may not like it but sacrifices will be needed,” admits IOC chief Thomas Bach. “This is why I’m saying, safety first, and no taboo in the discussion to ensure safety.” Translated… start preparing the cardboard fans.

Always good for a quote, former IOC vice president Dick Pound says the Tokyo Olympics could go ahead without fans. “The question is — is this a ‘must-have’ or ‘nice-to-have.’ It’s nice to have spectators. But it’s not a must-have.”

While Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has insisted the international mega sporting event will be held as scheduled as “proof that humanity defeated the coronavirus,” recent polls in Japan show 80% of the public believe the Olympics should not happen with virus cases surging.

As the head of government of Japan, lucky for Suga his position is appointed and not elected. Opposing that kind of mandate finds most politicians in retirement.

Bach finds the low public support in Japan to be understandable, but contends that will rise as the virus situation improves. “The Tokyo Olympics will go ahead this summer … there is no plan B.”

Tokyo Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021

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