Stop the clock: Japan awakes to reality of Tokyo Games postponement

Two women take a selfie with a Tokyo 2020 countdown clock displaying the current date instead of the countdown days. (AP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Stop the clock: Japan awakes to reality of Tokyo Games postponement

  • Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe contacts Trump to explain decision

TOKYO: Japan awoke on Wednesday to the deflating reality that the Olympics they had hoped to host in Tokyo this summer were now probably 16 months away after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis forced organizers into an unprecedented postponement.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese government finally succumbed to intense pressure from athletes and sporting bodies around the world on Tuesday when they agreed to put back the Games until 2021.

It was a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $12 billion in preparations, but also for the prestige of the Olympic movement and its leader, Thomas Bach, who had come under fire for not reacting sooner in the face of the global health crisis.

Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) President Yasuhiro Yamashita said that the decision had come earlier than he thought it would, but that he was determined the host nation’s athletes would be ready to compete in 2021.

“Now that the decisions have been made, let’s take this positively, reset our mindset,” he told a news conference.

“With a fresh mind, not giving up, I want to go through this challenge heading into next year.”

NUMBER

122 - Days that countdown clock stopped.

Japanese government officials said Prime Minster Shinzo Abe had phoned US President Donald Trump to explain the postponement as they sought to further cushion the economy from the twin blows of the coronavirus and the delayed Games.

Tuesday’s decision came 122 days before the planned opening ceremony at Japan’s newly built National Stadium, which was to usher in the 16-day event featuring 11,000 athletes from 206 nations and territories.

The clock in front of Tokyo Station, which had been displaying the number of days until the Games, ceased its countdown and reverted to Wednesday’s date and time.

Although 14 major corporations have indicated they would remain in the IOC’s global partnership program despite the delay, local organizers might have some negotiating to do to retain their own Games-specific sponsors.

Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. said it would decide whether to continue sponsorship for another year depending on conditions, including cost.

“We don’t have an answer to whether or not we will continue our sponsorship as we have just heard about the postponement,” Tokyo Gas President Takashi Uchida told a news conference on the company’s new business plans.

“We will make a decision after we learn about details.”

Athletes around the world, many struggling to train because of restrictions put in place to contain a virus that has killed more than 17,200 people, have expressed disappointment but largely welcomed the decision.


Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

Updated 22 September 2020

Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

  • The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus
  • Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport

ROME: Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is suspected of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the help of his teachers, the Perugia prosecutor’s department in charge of the investigation said on Tuesday.
The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus.
“The investigation showed that the subjects discussed during the exam were agreed beforehand with the candidate and that the grade was awarded to him even before the test,” the prosecutor’s department said in a statement.
Local prosecutor Raffaele Cantone, a former head of Italy’s National Anti-Corruption Authority, had been carrying out an investigation since February into University for Foreigners officials over various irregularities. Suspicions over Suarez were aroused by an overheard conversation.
“But what do you think, that we’re going to fail him? Today I have the last lesson (with Suarez) and I have to prepare it because he barely speaks a word” of Italian, Stefania Spina, one of the people targeted by the investigation, is claimed to have said according to prosecution documents cited by Italian media.
Asked by a colleague what level Suarez “should pass” in Italian, Spina reportedly replied: “He should not, he must, he will pass, because with a salary of 10 million (euros) per season, you can’t make him fail” his exam, “even if he doesn’t know how to conjugate verbs and speak in the infinitive.”
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.
The Italian champions cannot recruit Suarez otherwise because they have already reached their quota for non-EU players.