Incumbent Yuriko Koike is a strong favorite to be reelected — and a strong supporter of the Olympics — in a field of more than a dozen candidates. The campaign officially opened Thursday.Taro Yamamoto is a popular actor turned politician who has entered the fray.
Yamamoto and others have warned about bringing in 11,000 Olympic athletes from 200 nations and territories, 4,400 Paralympians, and thousands more staff, technical officials, broadcasters and journalists. Add to this fans — if they are allowed — who have bought more than 4 million tickets, up to 80,000 volunteers, and questions about the need for quarantines.
“Tokyo will turn into a Petri dish by having so many people coming from around the world,” Yamamoto said. “We should notify the International Olympic Committee that Tokyo cannot hold the event safely.”
Koike, the International Olympic Committee, and local organizers say they are trying to scale back, downsize, and simplify the Tokyo Games, which have already been pushed back by 12 months. They’ve revealed no specifics so far, with hints about cutting back the opening and closing ceremonies, or the torch relay.
Overall, Tokyo says it’s spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, although a government audit last year said it was twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.
Tokyo estimated the Olympics could cost $7.3 billion when the city was awarded the games in 2013.
“While many children and athletes are earnestly looking forward to the Olympics, we must keep the coronavirus under control, and the question is if a vaccine will be ready by then. It’s a race against time,” Koike said.
“There are many issues to be resolved,” Koike said. “But when we have a major global goal and share it, and when it becomes a proof of victory in our fight against the coronavirus, what a meaningful event it will be.”