Tokyo Olympic board member would support another delay

TOKYO (AP) — An executive board member of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee said another delay should be sought if the games can’t be held next year.

The Tokyo Olympics were to be held this year but were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The suggestion comes from Haruyuki Takahashi in an interview published yesterday in the Japanese sports newspaper Nikkan Sports.

“The main priority is to make a united effort to hold them (Olympics) in the summer of 2021,” Takahashi said.

He said if that is not possible “we should start action once again to get another delay”.

Estimates in Japan suggest the one-year delay will cost USD2 billion to USD6 billion, most of which will fall to Japanese taxpayers.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and local organising committee President Yoshiro Mori have both ruled out another delay and have said the games will be cancelled if they can’t open on July 23, 2021.

Takahashi has been intimately tied to the Tokyo Games.

He’s reported to have received millions of dollars from the Tokyo bid committee for his work lobbying IOC members when Tokyo was chosen in 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ahead of Madrid and Istanbul.

Takahashi is a former employee of the giant Japanese advertising agency Dentsu Inc, which has been credited with helping Tokyo land the Olympics. Dentsu is the exclusive marketing agency for the Tokyo Olympics and has been pivotal in lining up a record USD3.3 billion in local sponsorships.

A French investigation has touched on Dentsu’s role in landing the Olympics, including lobbying Lamine Diack. Diack was an IOC member when Tokyo was awarded the Olympics and is also a former head of the world governing body of track and field, World Athletics.

Diack is on trial in Paris on corruption charges that are separate from alleged vote-buying in 2013. The vote-buying allegations forced the resignation last year of President of the Japanese Olympic Committee Tsunekazu Takeda.