Hyderabad: The wait is finally over. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is all set to roll after one year sans the usual fanfare, excitement and enthusiasm associated with the quadrennial Games. The stakes are high. Japan is going ahead with the mega event despite severe warnings from the medical experts who feel that they are putting the country’s health status at risk because of the rising Covid-19 cases.
There was a general feeling that the Olympics would be cancelled. But Japan and the International Olympics Committee have gone ahead with the Games. Given the alarming pandemic situation, the Games will be held amid a lot of restrictions. It will be different in many senses. The athletes will be confined to the venue and the village, with masks on. There will be frequent Covid-19 tests for them.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is facing the heat. IOC and Japan will be on the edge for the next 15 days, hoping for an incident-free event. According to reports, if Japan cancels the Olympics, it would have to compensate the IOC. And this means billions of dollars are at stake. Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion. Estimates suggest a cancellation could cost the IOC up to $4 billion in broadcast rights income. Broadcasting and sponsors account for 91% of the IOC income.
For India, there is a lot of expectation with pundits predicting a double-digit medal tally. Although India has fielded teams in 18 disciplines, medals are expected in shooting, boxing, wrestling, archery, badminton, men’s hockey and perhaps one in athletics too through javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. Gagan Narang, London Olympics bronze medallist, said there is a buzz around the Indian team this time for the simple reason that some of them excelled in recent international tournaments, including World meets.
“The shooters have produced results in recent international meets and they have been World No.1 or 2 or 3 to be among the top contenders. There is an air of confidence among the shooters. It now zeroes down to the match day. The nerves will be tested. If they get into the groove then we can expect a good windfall,’’ he said.
Chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand felt that given the recent performances and the new fearless energy in the young athletes, he expects a best-ever medal haul in the Olympics. “The general feeling is that the athletes have been looked after very well in the run-up to the Olympics despite the lockdowns and Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of planning has gone into their training programme too. I do expect the athletes to come out with flying colours,’’ he said.
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