Leading Olympic and Paralympic sponsor casts doubt on Tokyo 2020 viability
One of the main sponsors of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics said the games should only take place this summer if “the safety of the participants is ensured.”
The chief executive of Japanese tire maker Bridgestone has “hopes” that the games will be successful, but warned that unless the games can be proven safe by Covid, they should not continue.
Bridgestone Managing Director Shuichi Ishibashi said: “I think everyone agrees that if security is not guaranteed we will not be able to organize the matches. I want to wait for the final decision of the International Olympic Committee. “
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Of the 14 main sponsors of Tokyo 2020, only one other was ready to say if he thought the events, which were canceled last year due to the pandemic, would take place.
Allianz, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Insurance Partner, said: “We are in close communication with the IOC and its Japanese partners who are committed to ensuring a safe and successful staging of the Games this summer.”
Ottobock, which is the official prosthetics, orthotics and wheelchair repair service for Paralympic athletes, added: “We regret for the athletes if the Games are postponed or canceled again, but we are ready whenever the Games are taking place. ”
However, other major sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Omega, Intel, Toyota and Visa did not answer questions about their confidence in the games in July and August.
Sponsors’ reluctance to support the games, which are due to open with the Olympics on July 23 and the Paralympics following August 24, may reflect a recent poll that showed nearly two-thirds of Japanese believed that they should be canceled.
Japan is currently under a state of emergency in Tokyo and parts of the country due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. However, while the IOC has said that Japanese sentiment towards the games “is a concern,” it and the Japanese government maintain that they will move forward.
Following the polls, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun also called for the games to be canceled for public health reasons.
However, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said the possibility of canceling the games was not even raised at this week’s board meeting, but discussed the l importance of communicating to the public how safe the games would be.
Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission of the ParalympicsGB, said I a series of test events in “many sports” had shown that the games could be held in a secure manner by Covid.
She said: “Over the past two months, these Covid countermeasures have been tested. There was an Olympic diving test event and an Olympic athletics test event, and just 10 days ago, the World Triathlon Union hosted an event in Yokohama for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and out of the thousands of athletes and staff there were literally only one or two positive cases.
“So what this shows is that the systems and structures that have been put in place are very, very robust and I think it’s more positive now that we’ve seen evidence that safe sport can be. offered in the Tokyo environment. “
Amy Truesdale targets para-taekwondo gold
Already two-time world taekwondo champion, Amy Truesdale was selected for her first Paralympic Games this week, and is trying to put out the noise about whether or not the matches will take place in August.
“To be honest, that’s not a thought that crossed my mind,” said the 32-year-old. “I’m just convinced that the game is progressing. I believe that all the correct protocols have been put in place to ensure that the game is safe for everyone involved. If it were to be canceled, obviously I would be heartbroken.
Tokyo 2020 will be the first Paralympic Games to host Taekwondo athletes, and Amy is sure what will be a success for her.
She will compete in the K44 ranking – for athletes with unilateral arm amputation or loss of toes that impact the ability to properly lift the heel – and nothing but gold will be a good result for her in Japan.
“My goals for games are to become a Paralympic champion,” said the Chester-born athlete. “It would be the icing on the cake because I won every other para-taekwondo title that I can.
“My other goal is just to inspire other people, not necessarily into Taekwondo, but just to inspire other people with disabilities just to achieve whatever they want in life.
“Anyone I’ve spoken to with a disability goes through stereotypes or people who put limits on you at some point in your life. So I think that overcoming adversity and just showing people that “yes you can do it” is what drives us to be successful and to do even better when we are in competition.
As for the Paralympic Games experience without a crowd or even with the support of friends and family, Amy believes that since she has never experienced games before, she will not be in tune with the lack of atmosphere.
“I think there will be fewer distractions with the stillness. In order for me to experience what it really is at the Paralympic Games, I’m just going to have to qualify for Paris. 2024. Then I can compare the two.