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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Tokyo Olympic organizers secure venues and competition schedule

Games to start from July 2021, but fears over coronavirus infections remain

The International Olympic Committee and organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are waiting until the fall to decide what coronavirus countermeasures they will need to take for the postponed games to take place next July. (Photo by Masayuki Terasawa)

TOKYO -- Exactly a week before the Olympic opening ceremony was to be held, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee announced it has secured all necessary venues for the games, which have been postponed to next year, and confirmed the competition schedule.

Tokyo organizers on Friday told a plenary session of the International Olympic Committee that agreements had been reached with venue operators to use all 43 sites across Japan, including the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, which will be used as a media center. The Harumi Flag complex, where several units had already been sold as condominiums, has also been secured as the Olympic and Paralympic Village.

With the venues being reserved, aside from a few scheduling conflicts, organizers said that the postponed games could follow the same competition schedule next year as had been previously laid out. The Summer Games next year will start on July 23, followed by the Paralympic Games starting on August 24.

"The overall schedule remains the same, so athletes working toward the games can now make concrete plans," said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto in the presentation during the IOC session on Friday.

The announcement came amid mounting concerns over coronavirus infections in the Japanese capital. Tokyo on Friday reported its highest daily tally of new cases, at 293. At the Friday session, Muto told the IOC that full-scale planning for coronavirus countermeasures during the games will begin in the fall.

Discussions are ongoing with Japanese corporate sponsors regarding their marketing rights, due to end on Dec. 31. "Tokyo 2020 expects and will do its best to have partner agreements extended until the games," Muto said.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been holding discussions on more than 250 proposals aimed at simplifying the games in an effort to reduce costs.

"We expect additional costs to occur in the future due to the need for COVID-19 countermeasures," Muto said, adding that a cost estimate will be available in the fall.

In June, the IOC and Tokyo organizers shared their road map for next year's games, according to which they will wait until the fall before deciding on coronavirus countermeasures, as more information on the situation becomes available and as the outbreak eases.

"The games will be unlike any before," said Yoshiro Mori, president of the organizing committee. "Tokyo 2020 must focus on safety, security and simplicity."

Amid uncertainty over whether Tokyo will be able to contain the spread of the virus by next summer, questions remain over whether and how spectators can attend the games. IOC chairman Thomas Bach on Wednesday told reporters that hosting the games behind closed doors was "clearly something we don't want."

Muto told the IOC on Friday that ticket holders unable to attend the games next year can begin requesting refunds in the fall. Previously, Olympic tickets, a main revenue source for the host city, were nonrefundable. The refunds will be a significant loss for an organizing committee facing yet unknown postponement costs and outstanding bills from suppliers.

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