Olympics: Tokyo organisers outline steps for ‘simplified’ Games

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Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday proposed cutting back the number of staff at next year’s Summer Games and shortening the opening period for training venues, as part of a plan to hold a streamlined event amid the pandemic.

The Games, originally scheduled to start this summer, were postponed for a year by the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government due to the novel coronavirus. Since then, organisers and government officials have been looking at ways to cut costs, simplify the Games and safeguard athletes and spectators. Still, there has been lingering doubt about the viability of holding a large-scale, global event as the pandemic continues to rage.

New Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sees tourism as key to reviving a badly damaged economy and has said he wants to hold the Olympics next year. “We are already resolved to do this next year no matter what,” Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori told reporters at a news conference following a two-day online meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials.

Mori, himself a former prime minister, said he had met with Suga who had said making the Olympics a success was the government’s top priority. Mori said the number of officials, staff and other people associated with the Games could be cut by 10-15%. The main press centre operation could be scaled back by eight days, and welcome ceremonies for athletes also cancelled, he said.

Tokyo organisers also suggested a shorter opening period for training venues and scaling back staff for the torch relay. However, there were no plans to cut the number of participating athletes, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told the briefing. There would be no change to the number of days for the torch relay, the relay route or the number of relay runners, Muto said. The number of spectators has not yet been discussed, he said. Organisers planned to report the amount of costs to be cut through the simplification measures in October, Mori, the Tokyo 2020 President, said.

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