British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 1 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

British Olympics chiefs were today adamant Team GB would still attend the Tokyo Olympics despite US advice not to travel to Japan and growing demands to cancel the event as a fourth Covid wave ravages the country.

The US State Department yesterday issued its highest Level 4 travel warning for Japan, which is in the grip of a month-long state of emergency with cases at 120 per 100,000 people and just 5.23 per cent of the population vaccinated. 

The British government today said its advice not to travel to Japan remained unchanged despite the escalation by the US.  

The British Olympics Association (BOA), which oversees Team GB, today said it was fully behind the Games, despite the US announcement and 80 per cent of Japanese people calling for the July event to be called off or delayed.

‘We remain fully committed to sending our full team to the Tokyo Olympic Games, and everything we hear from our colleagues in Tokyo, the Japanese Government and the IOC tells us that the Games are going ahead,’ a BOA spokesman told MailOnline.

The spokesman pointed out that US athletes would still be competing, adding: ‘We also note our colleagues at the United States Olympic Committee spoke of their ongoing confidence for their participation at the Games this summer.’ 

However, Professor Gabriel Scally, Visiting Professor of Public Health at the University of Bristol and a member of Independent Sage, this afternoon led calls for the Olympics to be cancelled, saying it ‘was not feasible’. 

Professor Scally told MailOnline: ‘We haven’t had an Olympics in years when there are world wars on, and the world is currently fighting a battle against an extremely dangerous disease. You can’t have an armistice to call a halt to this pandemic.

‘Exempting athletes from quarantine strikes me as completely amazing. The creation of a big melting pot of people from across the world who haven’t gone through isolation seems to be a recipe for a potential outbreak of some magnitude.

‘They are all going to be fit and healthy people but nonetheless it is still a problem. As well as living in close proximity many will also be engaging in contact sports. They need to postpone the Olympics or not have it.’      

Tokyo, along with the Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures, are under a state of emergency until May 31. Olympic events such as football, the marathon and race walking, will be held in Hokkaido, as well as in Tokyo. Okinawa is under a state of emergency until  June 20.

Tokyo, along with the Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures, are under a state of emergency until May 31. Olympic events such as football, the marathon and race walking, will be held in Hokkaido, as well as in Tokyo. Okinawa is under a state of emergency until  June 20.

Tokyo, along with the Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures, are under a state of emergency until May 31. Olympic events such as football, the marathon and race walking, will be held in Hokkaido, as well as in Tokyo. Okinawa is under a state of emergency until  June 20.

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 2 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 2 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

A brutal fourth wave of Covid has hit Japan as doctors in the second-largest city of Osaka warn the healthcare system is in danger of being overwhelmed (Japan’s daily case toll, pictured)

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 4 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 4 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 6 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 6 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

The UK Foreign Office today repeated its position that Japan is off limits to Britons, but athletes and staff can go after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden successfully lobbied Boris Johnson to allow all Team GB members to receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England yesterday said he was ‘100 per cent confident’ the Games would happen thanks to the vaccine deal, which a government spokesman today said should provide ‘reassurance’ to athletes.  

Japan announced in March that all international spectators would be banned. The country’s borders are already closed to foreign nationals apart from those with residency.  

Dozens of Japanese local leaders have responded to a wave of anti-Olympics street protests by refusing to host athletes in their cities. At least 40 out of 500 towns registered to accommodate international competitors have now declined to do so in order to avoid putting extra pressure on hospitals, according to local reports. 

Opposition has hardened as demand continues to mount on the health system. 

How cancelling the Games isn’t Japan’s decision to make  

Legally, only the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the right to cancel the Games, not the host country. 

The Olympics are the IOC’s ‘exclusive property’, international sports lawyer Alexandre Miguel Mestre told the BBC, so it reserves the sole legal right to determine whether they should go ahead. 

One ground for cancellation is if the IOC ‘has reasonable grounds to believe, in its sole discretion, that the safety of participants in the Games would be seriously threatened or jeopardised for any reason whatsoever’. 

A pandemic could qualify for this clause.  

However, if Japan acted alone they could be liable to cover all the losses. 

‘Under various clauses within this host city agreement, if Japan was to unilaterally cancel the contract, then by and large, the risks and losses would fall with the local organising committee,’ said Professor Jack Anderson, of the University of Melbourne. 

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Last week, the influential Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association has also backed cancellation, writing to Prime Minister Sugar last Monday that hospitals ‘have their hands full’ and have almost no capacity left to deal with a possible outbreak triggered by a huge large international event.

Japan has recorded about 719,000 novel coronavirus cases. The numbers are low compared with other countries but much of Japan remains under emergency curbs due to a strained medical system, while its vaccination drive has been slow, with just 5 per cent inoculated so far. 

Top Japanese and Olympic officials today pledged the Games will go ahead as planned on July 23 after being postponed in 2020, even as surveys revealed huge opposition among a public worried about new variants and the impact on the health sector. 

A poll published last Monday by newspaper Asahi Shimbun daily found 43 per cent of respondents wanted the Games cancelled, and 40 per cent backed a further postponement. 

Hospitals in Japan’s second largest city of Osaka are buckling under a huge wave of coronavirus infections, running out of beds and ventilators as exhausted doctors warn of a ‘system collapse’ and want the Games cancelled.

‘The Olympics should be stopped, because we already have failed to stop the flow of new variants from England, and next might be an inflow of Indian variants,’ said Akira Takasu, the head of emergency medicine at OMPUH.

He was referring to a variant first found in India that the World Health Organization (WHO) designated as being of concern after initial studies showed it spread more easily.

‘In the Olympics, 70,000 or 80,000 athletes and the people will come to this country from around the world. This may be a trigger for another disaster in the summer.’

Japan’s western region – home to 9 million people – is suffering the brunt of the fourth wave of the pandemic, accounting for a third of the nation’s death toll in May, although it constitutes just 7% of its population.

The speed at which Osaka’s healthcare system was overwhelmed underscores the challenges of hosting a major global sports event in two months’ time, particularly as only about half of Japan’s medical staff have completed inoculations.

‘Simply put, this is a collapse of the medical system,’ said Yuji Tohda, the director of Kindai University Hospital in Osaka.

‘The highly infectious British variant and slipping alertness have led to this explosive growth in the number of patients.’

Japan is currently going through its fourth wave of the Covid pandemic. Pictured is a medic going behind an isolation screen at Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University Hospital

Japan is currently going through its fourth wave of the Covid pandemic. Pictured is a medic going behind an isolation screen at Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University Hospital

Japan is currently going through its fourth wave of the Covid pandemic. Pictured is a medic going behind an isolation screen at Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University Hospital

More than 400 athletes attended a test event at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on May 9 ahead of the scheduled start dat for the Olympics of July 23

More than 400 athletes attended a test event at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on May 9 ahead of the scheduled start dat for the Olympics of July 23

More than 400 athletes attended a test event at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on May 9 ahead of the scheduled start dat for the Olympics of July 23

What the UK and US and governments are saying about travel to Japan

UK – 

Japan is an amber list country, meaning Britons are advised not to travel there except for essential reasons. Professional athletes are exempted. 

The UK government states: ‘New entry to Japan by foreign nationals from the majority of countries, including the UK, is currently not permitted. 

‘Foreign residents of Japan returning to Japan may re-enter, unless they have visited these countries within the past 14 days.

A British government spokesman said today that the guidance would be ‘constantly reviewed’.   

US – 

The US State Department has placed Japan under a Level 4 warning, meaning all non-essential travel there is banned. 

It referenced advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated: ‘Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan. 

‘Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Japan.’

The guidance did not mention the Olympics, which Team USA is still set to attend.  

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One of Japan's most prominent businessmen, Soft Bank CEO Masayoshi Son, has now joined calls for the Games'  cancellation

One of Japan's most prominent businessmen, Soft Bank CEO Masayoshi Son, has now joined calls for the Games'  cancellation

One of Japan’s most prominent businessmen, Soft Bank CEO Masayoshi Son, has now joined calls for the Games’  cancellation

Meanwhile, Japanese investors are fretting about the potential economic hit if the Games turned into a super spreader event, and one of the country’s most prominent businessmen, Soft Bank CEO Masayoshi Son, accusing politicians of ‘forcing through’ the Games in the face of huge public opposition. 

Legally, only the IOC has the right to cancel the Games because Japan is contractually obliged to go ahead with the event. 

A growing number of investors in Japanese stocks now believe that canceling the games is better for the market, intensifying the pressure on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is already facing intense public opposition to the global showcase event. 

Financial leaders fear that the potential damage to Mr Suga, as well as the resulting political uncertainty, could cause a major hit to the economy, as could a fresh surge in infections following the arrival of thousands of competitors and staff. 

‘An increasing number of people think not holding it is better for Japanese stocks, than doing it and ending up with political instability,’ Arihiro Nagata, general manager of global investment at Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, told the Japan Times

Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at Nomura Research Institute and a former Bank of Japan board member, said Japan stands to lose $16 billion (£11.3m) if the Olympics were cancelled, but that would pale in comparison to the economic hit from emergency curbs stemming from a fifth wave, a top economist estimated.

‘If the (Olympic Games) trigger the spread of infections and necessitates another emergency declaration, then the economic loss would be much greater,’ he Kiuchi said in a report published today. The direct loss from a cancellation would be equivalent to a third of a percent of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal 2020, he noted.

‘These calculations suggest that the decision of whether to hold or cancel the Games should be made from the perspective of infection risk rather than economic loss,’ he concluded.

Kiuchi’s estimate supports the view expressed by Japanese tycoon and SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, who argued in a series of tweets at the weekend that Japan could have a ‘lot to lose’ if the Olympics led to a spike in infections.

The billionaire wrote: ‘Currently more than 80 per cent of people want the Olympics to be postponed or cancelled. Who and on what authority is it being forced through?’ 

This morning, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa brushed aside the US travel ban and insisted the Games would still go ahead. ‘At present, we can see no particular impact,’ she told a news conference. 

She noted that the advisory did not ban essential travel and the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee had said planned mitigation practices would allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan was in close contact with the US government and he had seen ‘no change’ in US support for the Games. 

Japan is currently on the UK government’s amber list, meaning travel for leisure purposes is not permitted. Today a Foreign Office spokesman said the advice would be kept under ‘constant review’. 

Although some athletes have previously called for the Games to be postponed, the UK sporting community today rallied round the event and insisted it would be safe. 

Dozens of Japanese local leaders have responded to a wave of anti-Olympics street protests (including this one in Tokyo on May 23) by refusing to host athletes

Dozens of Japanese local leaders have responded to a wave of anti-Olympics street protests (including this one in Tokyo on May 23) by refusing to host athletes

Dozens of Japanese local leaders have responded to a wave of anti-Olympics street protests (including this one in Tokyo on May 23) by refusing to host athletes

Mask-wearing protesters at this demonstration in Tokyo on Sunday held signs in English saying 'Cancellation is the best and only choice'

Mask-wearing protesters at this demonstration in Tokyo on Sunday held signs in English saying 'Cancellation is the best and only choice'

Mask-wearing protesters at this demonstration in Tokyo on Sunday held signs in English saying ‘Cancellation is the best and only choice’ 

‘We are aware of reports about an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan’: How Covid caused havoc with Japan’s Games 

2020 – 

January 11 – The IOC responds to concerns about an Olympic boxing qualifying tournament scheduled in Wuhan by saying: ‘We are aware of the reports on the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan. As it stands, the WHO (World Health Organization) have indicated that the Chinese authorities have confirmed that SARS and MERS coronaviruses have been ruled out, and that there is no convincing evidence of human to human transmission.’

February 15 – John Coates, head of IOC inspection team for 2020 Olympics, tells a Tokyo news conference: ‘Certainly the advice we’ve received externally from the WHO is that there’s no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the games or moving the games.’ 

February 27 – Tokyo organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto says: ‘For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.’

March 3 – IOC spokesman Mark Adams tells journalists: ‘We are going to have the games on the 24th of July.’  

March 4 – ‘I will not take part in any way of such kind of mere speculations.’ —IOC president Bach, when asked if WHO declaring a pandemic would change the IOC’s position. (WHO declared a pandemic on 11 March) 

March 12 – US president Donald Trump calls for the Games to be cancelled, saying: ‘I would say maybe they postpone it for a year. I like that better than having empty stadiums all over the place.’

March 13 – Rebutting President Trump’s comments, Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto tells reporters: ‘The IOC and the organizing committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement — absolutely not at all.’ 

March 22 – The IOC says in a statement: ‘There is a dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19 in different countries on different continents. This led the (board) to the conclusion that the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning.’ 

March 24 – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirms the Games have been postponed into the summer of 2021 ‘at the latest’. 

July 24 to August 9 – Dates the Olympics were originally due to take place before being postponed.   

2021 – 

January 14 – Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya rules out a second postponement amid a surge in cases. 

March 25 – Torch relay begins in northeastern Japan.

April 14 – Matsuyama city in western Japan cancels its leg of the relay, citing Covid concerns.  

May 6 – The world’s oldest person gives up her spot in the relay following the surge in cases. Kane Tanaka, a woman aged 118, had planned to use a wheelchair when the torch passed through the city of Fukuoka. 

May 10 – IOC chief Thomas Bach’s visit to Tokyo is postponed due to a surge in cases of the virus. 

May 21 – Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirms all members of Team GB will receive a vaccine before travelling under a deal struck with Pfizer. 

May 24 – US announces a ban on travel to Japan for all but essential reasons. Olympic athletes are still allowed to travel. 

July 23 to August 8 – When the Olympics is due to take place.     

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Athletes and support staff will not be required to quarantine after arriving in Japan but will have to stay in bubbles and avoid mixing with locals. 

International spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan to attend the Games but a decision has yet to be made on domestic spectators. 

Michael Payne, former director of the IOC said these safety measures meant the Games would ‘definitely’ go ahead.

‘The IOC and the Japanese government and organising committee have put in place a very strict set of protocols to ensure the Games can take place in a safe and secure environment,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. 

‘The protocols will dramatically limit interaction between the international, visitors, media and the Japanese people. Effectively everyone attending the Games will only be allowed to travel from the village to the venue.

‘The country is in a state of emergency to bring Covid under control but if you look at the numbers the infection rate is a fraction of what you’re seeing in parts of Europe and America.’

Asked about arrangements for fans wanting to watch events in person, he said: ‘They have already banned all international spectators. 

‘The news indicates that they will allow some domestic spectators – lots of other sporting events in Japan currently have them.’  

GB chief Mark England was similarly positive yesterday, telling Sky News: ‘One hundred per cent the Games will take place, the opening ceremony is July 23 and everybody is working towards that. 

‘I depart on July 4 so I will do all the pre-Games set-up and enter the team formally on July 7 so they are the time frames we’re working too.

‘All credit to everybody in Tokyo for the work they’ve done in very difficult and challenging conditions to prepare the Olympic environment for everybody and what has been done here in terms of preparing teams to be in a position to be selected and make the qualification standards has been nothing short of remarkable.

‘We understand that we are going into a Games which is very challenging, which is very different and I think it’s fantastic news that over 75 to 80 per cent of those athletes who will be in the Olympic village will be vaccinated.’ 

UK Athletics chief Nic Coward was one of the leading figures calling for the Games to be cancelled last year. 

However, a spokesman told MailOnline this was due to fears at the time that athletes were unable to properly prepare due to other competitions being cancelled because of Covid and he now backed the Olympics.  

Tokyo, along with the Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima and Fukuoka prefectures, are under a state of emergency until May 31.

Sapporo in Hokkaido is scheduled to host some football matches along with the marathon and race walking events.

Okinawa has been put under a state of emergency until June 20.

Dozens of towns are now refusing to host athletes. Team GB’s pre-Games preparation camp is split between Yokohama, Kawasaki and Keio University – all just to the south of Tokyo – and they have been assured they are still fine to use those facilities.

However, the US track and field team have pulled out of their plans to train at the eastern prefecture of Chiba, whose governor said he was not willing to give up vital hospital beds to athletes. 

Okuizumo will no longer host India’s hockey team, Kurihara has abandoned plans to entertain South Africa’s hockey side and Australian’s swimming squad will no longer train in Niigata.  

 

At least 40 out of 500 Japanese towns registered to accommodate international competitors have now declined to do so in order to avoid putting extra pressure on hospitals, according to local reports

At least 40 out of 500 Japanese towns registered to accommodate international competitors have now declined to do so in order to avoid putting extra pressure on hospitals, according to local reports

At least 40 out of 500 Japanese towns registered to accommodate international competitors have now declined to do so in order to avoid putting extra pressure on hospitals, according to local reports

Runners taking part in an Olympics test event at the main stadium in Tokyo on May 9, which involved hundreds of athletes

Runners taking part in an Olympics test event at the main stadium in Tokyo on May 9, which involved hundreds of athletes

Runners taking part in an Olympics test event at the main stadium in Tokyo on May 9, which involved hundreds of athletes 

In its new guidance, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said travellers should avoid all travel to Japan due to the risk of new variants. 

‘Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,’ it said. 

Australia has also advised against travel to Japan due to health risks from COVID-19 and disruptions to global travel.

Japan has avoided the large-scale infections suffered by many other nations, but a fourth wave has triggered states of emergency in Tokyo, the western metropolis of Osaka and other localities across the nation.

The government was leaning towards extending the emergency status – set to end on May 31 in most regions, including Tokyo, several sources with knowledge of the decision told Reuters.

Japan’s slow vaccination roll-out has increased concerns.

The country has delivered vaccinations to just over 5 per cent of its population, the slowest among the world’s larger, rich countries, and has recorded 715,940 infections and 12,308 deaths from the virus.

Tokyo locals wearing masks walk in front of a screen showing the news of the US State Department's new guidance about visits to Japan

Tokyo locals wearing masks walk in front of a screen showing the news of the US State Department's new guidance about visits to Japan

Tokyo locals wearing masks walk in front of a screen showing the news of the US State Department’s new guidance about visits to Japan 

A former sumo wrestler receives a coronavirus vaccine at Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena yesterday in Tokyo. Japan has been criticised for the slow pace of its vaccination programme

A former sumo wrestler receives a coronavirus vaccine at Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena yesterday in Tokyo. Japan has been criticised for the slow pace of its vaccination programme

A former sumo wrestler receives a coronavirus vaccine at Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena yesterday in Tokyo. Japan has been criticised for the slow pace of its vaccination programme 

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee also said it remained ‘confident’ that safety measures and frequent testing for athletes and staff ‘will allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes this summer.’

A State Department spokesman said Washington understands ‘the careful considerations that the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are weighing as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.’

‘President Biden proudly supports the US athletes who have trained for these Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit,’ he said. 

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai also said he saw no direct impact on the Olympics from the US travel advisory but added that there were important practical issues that remained to be resolved.     

Tokyo Olympics Q&A: Will it go ahead? Which new sports will feature? And what are the Covid rules for the athletes? Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know as the countdown to the Games continues

By Matt Davies and James Gant for MailOnline

After being pushed back a year following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the biggest sporting event on the planet is almost finally upon us.  

There remain a number of hurdles for the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers to overcome, but Japan is desperate to provide some of the magic we’ve seen in recent years in Rio and London 2012. 

Nine prefectures in Japan – including Tokyo and Hakkaido, where some events will be held – are under a state of emergency until May 31 with Covid-19 cases rising. Okinawa has been placed under a state of emergency until June 20. 

Amidst a mountain of uncertainty, one thing we can be sure of is that no oversees fans will be able to travel to the Games. Nevertheless, providing it does go ahead, you can be sure Japan will look to put their own unique spin on the Olympics.   

With the Games now just around the corner, Sportsmail takes a look at what should be expected from Japan’s first Olympics in over 50 years.

The Olympics are scheduled to officially commence after the opening ceremony on July 23

The Olympics are scheduled to officially commence after the opening ceremony on July 23

The Olympics are scheduled to officially commence after the opening ceremony on July 23

Will the Olympics definitely go ahead?    

This is perhaps the one and only place to begin. As highlighted above, Japan are currently in a state of emergency with under three months until the Olympics are scheduled to begin. 

Moreover, the general feeling among the Japanese public is largely negative. Just over 100 days prior to the Games getting underway, Japanese outlet Kyodo News published a poll stating 70 per cent of the public want the Olympics postponed or cancelled. 

The survey indicated that 39.2 per cent wanted the Games entirely cancelled, with 32.8 per cent opting for delay. Meanwhile, just 24.5 per cent believed the Games should go ahead as currently planned. 

And more recently on Tuesday, an IOC press conference was gatecrashed by a protester disguised as a reporter, unfurling a banner and shouting: ‘No Olympics anywhere, f**k the Olympics. We don’t want the Olympics anywhere. No Olympics in LA, No Olympics in Tokyo.’   

Key figures and decision makers remain adamant the Games are going ahead as planned, however.  

In response to the incident, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said: ‘We listen but won’t be guided by public opinion,’ adding ‘everything is telling us that the Games can go ahead and will go ahead.’ 

A sign reading 'It is impossible to hold the Olympics, face up to reality' was held up during a testing event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics marathon race earlier in May

A sign reading 'It is impossible to hold the Olympics, face up to reality' was held up during a testing event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics marathon race earlier in May

A sign reading ‘It is impossible to hold the Olympics, face up to reality’ was held up during a testing event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics marathon race earlier in May

The IOC also confirmed there have been four recent test events without any covid transmission.  

After attending a half marathon test event on May 5, Sebastian Coe said the nervousness among the Japanese locals is being taken ‘very seriously’, insisting the Covid protocols have been ‘tried and tested’.   

Furthermore, Team GB chief Mark England late in April said he was growing more confident by the day that the Olympics would indeed go ahead. 

England said: ‘The state of emergency that has been announced is really important because it adds weight to the Japanese government making every stride to not only safeguard the local population in Japan but, in our context, to safeguard the Games going ahead.

‘I’ve got more confidence by the day that the Games will be happening and we look forward to supporting whatever restrictions are put in place.’ 

Can fans attend?

The answer to this question isn’t entirely clear as of yet. What we know for sure is that no international fans will be able to attend either the Olympic or Paralympic Games. 

The decision was confirmed back in March, when the Tokyo organising committee revealed what had been a ‘tough’ decision to make. 

‘In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,’ they said in a statement. 

It’s reportedly estimated that a lack of oversees fans will cost Japan around £500m. 

Meanwhile, a decision on the attendance of local fans will be made in June, just weeks before the Games are due to begin. 

Importantly, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has confirmed they are prepared for the Olympics to take place without fans if necessary.  

Olympics dates

Assuming the Olympics do go ahead, the dates have slightly changed having been pushed back by a year. 

The Olympics – which is still named ‘Tokyo 2020’ – technically starts on Wednesday, July 21, as the softball and football opening rounds get underway. 

However, the opening ceremony, which officially marks the start of the Games, is scheduled for Friday, July 23, before a jam-packed two-week schedule commences. 

The Games come to an end on Sunday, August 8, which is when the closing ceremony takes place. 

Meanwhile, the Paralympics Games will run from August 24 to September 5.  

Will the athletes be vaccinated?  

The chances of Olympic athletes being fully vaccinated against coronavirus have been boosted after Pfizer offered to donate free jabs to both those competing and working at the event.

Pfizer have reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee, despite previous assurances from the British Olympic Association that their athletes would not ‘jump the queue’.

The IOC have made it clear that any athletes provided with a vaccine will not get one in place of a member of the general public, but rather in addition to.

And while vaccination is not a mandatory requirement, the IOC are expecting a large proportion of those competing and working at the Games to have received a jab beforehand.

What will the rules be for athletes?

The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers have issued a 'playbook' which outlines the rules

The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers have issued a 'playbook' which outlines the rules

The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers have issued a ‘playbook’ which outlines the rules

Even if they are provided a vaccine prior to the Games, it will still be an experience like no other for the 10,000 athletes, coaches and staff expected to arrive in July. 

There is an extensive set of rules that they will all have to adhere to. 

Primarily, each athlete will be required to record two negative tests before arriving in Japan. They will then be tested each day that they are in the country, and they will exclusively eat at the Games venues and accommodation, or via delivery to their rooms.

Furthermore, they cannot take public transport during their stay and they can only travel via official Olympics vehicles to move between hotels and sporting venues.

Those travelling with the athletes will also need to record two negative tests before entering the country. They will be tested for the first three days of their arrival and subsequently ‘regularly’, depending on how much contact they plan to make with the athlete.

Finally, masks will be worn during medal ceremonies and at most times within venues, while interviews in the mixed zone will be limited to just 90 seconds.  

Opening ceremony

Moving away from the hurdles still to overcome, we now have a look at what the Games may actually look like assuming they go ahead. 

The opening and closing ceremonies are still scheduled for Friday, July 23 at 8pm and August 8 at the same time. 

Initially, there was expected to be 11,000 athletes in attendance across 200 nations, but that is now reportedly to be reduced to just 6,000.  

But what will it look like? Well, shortly before the Games were postponed last year, Tokyo put on a powerful pyrotechnic display, which could indicate the type of ceremony we’ll see.  

The extravagant show took place high above a barge stationed in Tokyo Bay that supports a massive replica of the five Olympic rings. 

The iconic New National Stadium

Tokyo’s iconic New National Stadium boasts a staggering maximum capacity of 68,000 (80,016 with temporary seats) and towers above the low-lying surrounding flats in the Shinjuku ward of the city.

It is set to host track and field events as well as some of the football matches – and, of course, the opening and closing ceremonies. Despite architect Kengo Kuma likely to win many awards for his design, the stadium has been a headache for organisers.

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has been inspired by traditional temples

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has been inspired by traditional temples

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, has been inspired by traditional temples

The intention was to remodel the National Stadium in Tokyo, which had been the site of the 1964 Olympics, the last time the city hosted the Games. In February 2012 a £700million renovation was announced, with the design up for bidding. But the winning proposal faced enormous criticism as it was compared to a bicycle helmet.

As costs spiraled to nearly £1.8billion the Zaha Hadid design was scrapped entirely. The new design by Kuma has been inspired by traditional temples and has a more conventional look.  

Although Tokyo is densely urban, it is also dotted with many parks and green areas. The stadium works off that theme, making sure it is functional and linked to nature.

A walkway on the fifth level is called the ‘Grove of the Sky.’ It’s about 100ft above the street and runs half a mile around the stadium. It is lined with benches, flowers and trees and walking around it there are breathtaking views of the city, as well as Mount Fuji to the west on a clear day.

The stadium seating rises in a steep gradient from the field level and the nine-lane track, getting steeper the higher it goes. The colours of the seats also get lighter the higher up you go with more brown seats near the bottom — the earth — and more green, grey and white near the top.

The stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies, football and track and field events

The stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies, football and track and field events

The stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies, football and track and field events

Tokyo’s 1964 Olympics left behind several architectural jewels, the most famous of which was Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi National Stadium. It was the swimming venue in 1964 — American swimmer Don Schollander won four gold medals there — and will this time host handball, as well as badminton and wheelchair rugby at the Paralympics.

The new stadium also feature items from the old national stadium, which was razed in 2015. The most prominent are two mosaic-tile murals featuring the Greek goddess Nike and Nomino Sukune, a legendary sumo wrestler. They are located at the Aoyama Gate entrance. 

OLYMPIC VENUES: HERITAGE ZONE AND TOKYO BAY ZONE

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 8 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

British Olympics chiefs say fully-vaccinated Team GB WILL go to Tokyo Games 8 Team GB this morning said it was fully behind the July Games despite the US government's announcement and 80 percent of Japanese people calling for the event to be called off or delayed.

1. Olympic Stadium – Opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football

2. Tokoyo Metropolitan Gymnasium – Table tennis

3. Yoyogi National Stadium – Handball

4. Nippon Budokan – Judo, Karate

5. Tokyo International Forum – Weightlifting

6. Kokugikan Arena – Boxing

7. Equestrian Park – Dressage, Eventing, Jumping

8. Musashino Forest Sport Plaza – Badminton, Modern Pentathlon (Fencing)

9. Tokyo Stadium – Football, Rugby, Modern Pentathlon (Swimming, Fencing, Riding, Laser-Run)

10. Musashinonomori Park – Cycling (Road Race)

11. Ariake Arena – Volleyball

12. Ariake Gymnastics Centre – Gymnastics

13. Ariake Urban Sports Park – Cycling (BMX Freestyle, BMX racing), Skateboarding

14. Ariake Tennis Park – Tennis

15. Odaiba Marine Park – Aquatics (Marathon Swiming), Triathlon

16. Shiokaze Park – Beach Volleyball

17. Aomi Urban Sports Park – Basketball, Sport Climbing

18. Oi Hockey Stadium – Hockey

19. Sea Forest Cross-Country Course – Equestrian (Eventing)

20. Sea Forest Waterway – Canoe (Sprint), Rowing 

21. Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre – Caneo (Slalom) 

22. Yumenoshima Park Archery Field – Archery

23. Tokyo Aquatics Centre – Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming

24. Tatsumi Water Polo Centre – Water Polo

25. Sapporo Odori Park – Athletics (Marathon/ Race Walk)

26. Makuhari Messe Hall A – Taekwondo, Wrestling

27. Makuhari Messe Hall B – Fencing

28. Tsurigaski Surfing Beach – Surfing

29. Saitama Super Arena – Basketball

30. Asaka Shooting Range – Shooting

31. Kasumigaseki Country Club – Golf

32. Enoshima Yacht Harbour – Sailing

33. Izu Velodrome – Track Cycling

34. Izu MTB Course – Mountain Biking

35. Fuji International Speedway – Cycling (Road Race)

36. Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium – Baseball

37. Yokohama Baseball Stadium – Baseball 

38. Sapporo Dome – Football

39. Miyagi Stadium – Football

40. Ibaraki Kashima Stadium – Football

41. Saitama Stadium – Football

42. International Stadium Yokohama – Football

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Medals made from electronic devices

Medals for the 2020 Olympics will be made from recycled electronic devices as the Games looks to be more environmentally friendly.

The Old Metals New Medals project launched a nationwide collection of discarded electronic devices in April 2017 to draw attention to the importance of sustainability.

Millions of smartphones and tonnes of old digital products were donated, altogether  amounting to nearly 50,000 tons of devices. Devices included laptops, cameras and more than five million smartphones over 18 months since the project started.

This is the gold medal that will be worn by winners at next year's Tokyo 2020 Olympics

This is the gold medal that will be worn by winners at next year's Tokyo 2020 Olympics

This is the gold medal that will be worn by winners at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics

A total of 16.5kg of gold has been collected, representing 54 per cent of the target, and 1,800kg of silver, 43.9 per cent of the target.

The committee said that the project has offered the public an opportunity to play an important role in the Games’ preparations. 

The new designs have been made from harvested gadgets handed in by the public

The new designs have been made from harvested gadgets handed in by the public

The new designs have been made from harvested gadgets handed in by the public 

The Japanese public donated their old devices at shops and municipal authorities across the country before they were dismantled refined and turned into raw metals.

Some 2,700kg of bronze had already been extracted by June 2018 and by October there had been 28.4kg of gold and 3,500kg of silver extracted from the donations.

The project is being supported by mobile phone operator NTT DOCOMO, the Japanese Government environmental Sanitation Center and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

What are the 2020 Olympic events?

There will be a total of 33 sports at the 2020 Olympics. These are: Aquatics, Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoe, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Karate, Modern Pentathlon, Rowing, Rugby, Sailing, Shooting, Skateboarding, Sport Climbing, Surfing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling.

What are the new sports at Tokyo?

The 2020 Summer Olympics will feature five new sports: Skateboarding, Karate, Baseball/Softball, Surfing and Sports Climbing.

The sports were approved with a unanimous vote of 90 IOC members. The additions will bring 470 more athletes to the Games, as well as 18 new events.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the motivation behind the new sports’ introduction was to ‘take sport to the youth’.

‘With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us – we have to go to them.’

Skateboarding at the 2020 Olympics

The addition of Skateboarding to the 2020 Olympics has perhaps attracted the most attention, especially after three-time Olympic gold medal-winning snowboarder, Shaun White said he was considering switching sports to skateboarding.

‘I think I will carry on. My big choice now is whether to go for the Summer Games or not. I’m excited about it. The motivation will be there. It’s something new, less gear, new competitors, I could be at home and compete,’ he said.

The Skateboarding sport will feature two disciplines at the 2020 Olympics: park and street.

The former will include: ‘A course that combines a dome-shaped bowl and a variety of complex curves will be used. For the street competition, a course with stairs, curbs, slopes and rails will be used.’

2020 Olympics mascots

Miraitowa and Someity have been unveiled as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascots

Miraitowa and Someity have been unveiled as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascots

Miraitowa and Someity have been unveiled as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascots

The mascots for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were voted for by children in Japanese schools – both at home and abroad – from a choice of three finalists pairs.  

The winning pair of two fox-like figures was announced in February 2018, and later named Miraitowa and Someity.

Miraitowa, which is the mascot for the Olympic Games, is a combination of the Japanese words for ‘future’ and ‘eternity’, and is presented with indigo blue ichimatsu patterns, the same as the Tokyo 2020 Games emblem. 

Meanwhile Someity, the mascot for the Paralympic Games, is phonetically similar to the English ‘so mighty’, and is derived from a variety of cherry blossom named Someiyoshino. 

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