Tokyo 2020: The uphill battle to save the Olympics

The Olympics are due to start on 24 July. Tokyo is out to ensure they go ahead, and the International Olympic Committee isn’t giving up on them. That has been the word from IOC vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch in several interviews with AS, and it’s to be expected. It’s what they have to do. But I think it’s unlikely they’ll manage it. Even if the pandemic is coming under control in the area of the world where it began, it’s spreading across many others at the same time. Here in Spain, it’s certainly only going to get worse before it gets better; unfortunately, it appears that it can’t be stopped just like that. We’re taking measures against it, but it’s been a little late. We were too optimistic, too reluctant to change our ways.

There'll have to be a decision on Olympics by end of April

This week, there’ll be a number of meetings (by video link, clearly) between major IOC figures and the national Olympic committees, as they seek a way forward. For the moment, no deadline has been set for the postponement of the Games, but prudent voices say this can’t go on any further than April. All the while, the athletes are not getting the preparation they need, be it through the closure of training centres or the cancellation of competitions. Some Olympic qualifying events have been delayed, too, so there are places at the Games that are still to be decided. And it’ll be a tall order to find new dates for them.

One exception is the boxing, whose qualifying tournament is in London. Led by the trainer Rafael ‘Balita’ Lozano, there are several Spaniards involved. It’s an event, by the way, which has been organised by the IOC itself, having wrested control of it away from the International Boxing Association over its non-stop corruption. It’s taking place as planned because UK prime minister Boris Johnson has decided to drive on the left when it comes to the coronavirus, too. We’ll see how that ends up. So this Olympic qualifier is the only sporting flame still burning in western Europe, following the early finish of the Paris-Nice cycling challenge, which was like the lizard’s tail that still wriggles around after separating from its body.