Tokyo Olympics have no ‘Plan B’ for another postponement

Tokyo Olympics Delayed
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TOKYO (AP) — There is no “Plan B” for the Olympics if they need to be postponed again because of the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo organizers said Tuesday.

Masa Takaya, the spokesman for the Tokyo Olympics, said organizers are proceeding under the assumption the Olympics will open on July 23, 2021. The Paralympics follow on Aug. 24.

Those dates were set last month by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese officials after the coronavirus pandemic made it clear the Tokyo Games could not be held as scheduled this year.

“We are working toward the new goal,” Takaya said, speaking in English on a teleconference call with journalists. “We don’t have a B Plan.”

The severity of the pandemic and the death toll has raised questions if it will even be feasible to hold the Olympics in just over 15 months.

“All I can tell you today is that the new Games’ dates for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been just set up,” Takaya said. “In that respect, Tokyo 2020 and all concerned parties now are doing their very best effort to deliver the Games next year.”

IOC President Thomas Bach was asked about the possibility of a postponement in an interview published in the German newspaper Die Welt on Sunday.

He did not answer the question directly, but said later that Japanese organizers and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated they “could not manage a postponement beyond next summer at the latest.”

The Olympics draw 11,000 athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and large support staffs from 206 National Olympic Committees.

There are also questions about frozen travel, rebooking hotels, cramming fans into stadiums and arenas, securing venues and the massive costs of rescheduling, which is estimated in Japan at $2 billion-$6 billion.

Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto addressed the issue in a news conference on Friday. He is likely to be asked about it again on Thursday when local organizers and the IOC hold a teleconference with media in Japan.

The other major question is the cost of the delay, and who pays.

Bach said in the Sunday interview that the IOC would incur “several hundred million dollars” in added costs. Under the so-called Host City Agreement, Japan is liable for the vast majority of the expenses.

“This is impossible to say for now,” Takaya said. “It is not very easy to estimate the exact amount of the Games’ additional costs, which have been impacted by the postponement.”

Tokyo says it is spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. But a Japanese government audit published last year says the costs are twice that much. Of the total spending, $5.6 billion is private money. The rest is from Japanese governments.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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