Tokyo marks 2nd Olympic countdown

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    TOKYO. — Tokyo 2020 organizers will host celebrations marking the one-year countdown to the Olympics on Thursday but with the postponed Games still shrouded in uncertainty they are sure to be more muted than the first attempt 12 months ago.

    On July 24 last year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach presided over a glitzy ceremony in the Japanese capital and declared Tokyo the best prepared host city he had ever seen.

    Even six months ago, when fireworks exploded over a giant, luminous set of Olympic rings in Tokyo Bay, organizers were still bullish that their huge financial investment would deliver an unforgettable games.

    Just two months later, however, plans that had been almost a decade in the making were shredded as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the IOC and Japanese government to take the unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympics for a year.

    Since the postponement in late March, all 42 venues for the Games have been secured and the competition schedule announced, with the opening ceremony set to take place at the 156.9 billion yen ($1.44 billion) National Stadium on July 23.

    Beyond that, though, questions remain about almost every aspect of hosting of what Bach calls the “most complex event on this planet.”

    The head of the IOC’s Coordination Commission John Coates has said rearranging the Games meant focusing on the “must haves” in a simplified event.

    In response, Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Toshiro Muto said over 200 simplification measures were under consideration.