Tokyo Olympics followed by 3 big events in China
Uncertainty grips next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics: Will there be fans or empty stadiums in 14 months? And how will thousands of athletes, staff, and technical officials travel, be housed, and stay safe amid COVID-19?
And Tokyo is not alone. China – where the COVID-19 outbreak was first detected – will hold three mega-sports events within a year after Tokyo is set to close.
The World University Games in Chengdu in western China open 10 days after the Tokyo Games close, with up to 8,000 athletes. Next come the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on Feb. 4, 2022, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou starting on Sept. 10. The previous edition of the Asian Games in Indonesia drew 11,000 athletes and featured more sports than the Olympics.
A fourth major event, soccer’s 24-team Club World Championship, was to open in China in June of 2021, but has been postponed because of scheduling conflicts.
China is a go-to country for these mega events, through expertise gained from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and because it absorbs the massive costs. It spent at least $40 billion to organize the 2008 Olympics, and there was no national debate since the authoritarian state prohibits voting or referendums.
Voters in Europe and North America have repeatedly said “no” to referendums to hold the games. China landed the 2022 Winter Olympics when several European bidders withdrew. Beijing won narrowly in a vote by the IOC against Almaty, Kazakhstan.
“Telling the citizens of Bavaria or Switzerland that another Winter Olympics would benefit them greatly doesn’t work,” Jonathan Grix, who studies sports policy at Manchester Metropolitan University, wrote in an email. He said voters sense that “citizens rarely benefit the most from such events.”
“Authoritarian states have no need to ask the populace, they have no need to compromise on policy, there is no political opposition (by definition) and most delivery services are state-run, ensuring the smooth running of the event,” Grix added.
Finland aims to restart:
A stellar 2019 for soccer in Finland was meant to hit a new peak in the 2020 season. The national team qualified last November for its first major tournament and Finland was going to spend midJune obsessed by the European Championship.
Another Nordic nation making a long-shot debut dressed in blue and white, Finland was aiming to follow Iceland’s inspiring run to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals.
“It was really, really positive. The country has never been so enthusiastic,” Finnish league CEO Timo Marjamaa told The Associated Press of his home country that is world champion in its top sport, ice hockey.
The pandemic has forced Euro 2020 – where Finland was set to play against top-ranked Belgium, Denmark and neighbor Russia – to be postponed for one year.
On June 16, instead of preparing to face the Russians in nearby St. Petersburg, Finnish fans are looking to restart the national cup competition stopped in March.
July 1 is the target, pending government approval, to start the 12-team Veikkausliiga season. That’s almost three months after the league’s planned opening day and more than eight months since a memorable 2019 title was sealed.
The league trophy won by KuPS in October was the team from Kuopio’s first in 43 years, and the first decided in a sixteam championship group after the regular season. The backdrop was the anticipation of Finland advancing to Euro 2020 with group leader Italy by winning its home games in October and November.
Wall starts rent program:
Wizards point guard John Wall is starting the “202 Assist” program to help with paying rent for people in the nation’s capital. The John Wall Family Foundation set a goal of raising $300,000 over the next month. The program is named for Washington’s area code and will work with the city to find those in need and disperse funds.
Wall is a five-time NBA All-Star who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Wizards in the 2010 draft. He sat out all of the 2019-20 season after tearing his left Achilles tendon. His foundation donated 2,300 masks and hundreds of meals to front-line workers in Washington and in his home state of North Carolina in April.
Djokovic plans tourneys:
Novak Djokovic is planning to set up a series of tennis tournaments in the Balkan region while the sport is suspended. The top-ranked player’s media team said the Adria Tour will start in Belgrade on June 13 and end on July 5 with Djokovic’s exhibition match against Bosnian player Damir Dzumhur in Sarajevo. The other events are scheduled for the Croatian Adriatic resort of Zadar, Montenegro and Banja Luka in northern Bosnia.
Djokovic will play in all of the round robin tournaments. The other participants are to include Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov.
Organizers left open the possibility that the “humanitarian” tour could be played in front of spectators.
No professional tennis tournaments have been played since March.
The uncertainty that surrounds the postponed Tokyo Olympics also permeates three mega-events planned in China, where the coronavirus was first detected.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic is planning a series of tennis tournaments in the Balkans. The Adria Tour will start in Belgrade on June 13 and end on July 5 in Sarajevo.