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2020年 4月 20日

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Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Postponed to 2021 Amidst Global Pandemic

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After weeks of debate, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government agreed to postpone the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to the summer of 2021 amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision came after the host country and the IOC decided to prioritize the safety of spectators and athletes by delaying an event that has been in the works for years.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the news on the night of March 24. He said that he and the head of the IOC agreed the Games wouldn’t be cancelled, but rather rescheduled to next year. A week later, officials announced the Games would begin on July 23, 2021.

Abe said Japan vows to work with the IOC to make the event safe and enjoyable for all.

Concerns about actually staging the Games have been brewing since the middle of February. Throughout February, Abe and IOC officials have largely said the Olympics were scheduled to go on this July. As the situation got worse and athletic organizations around the world applied pressure to delay the Games, both sides realized postponement was inevitable.

The news came during a global pandemic centered around a new strain of coronavirus that originated out of China in late 2019. The outbreak of the virus has impacted nearly every country on Earth, and has forced many to institute severe measures to stop the spread.

The Olympics were expected to be an economic boon for Japan, with many tourists expected among other benefits. In the wake of the pandemic, however, the country is expected to take a financial hit in the short term.

Japan’s tourism industry will take a one-two hit from the postponement of the Olympics and the pandemic. Industry experts anticipated upwards of ¥150 billion coming in because of the Summer Games, but that estimate will now change drastically. Many wonder if smaller tourism outfits can make it through the year.

The capital’s hotel industry is expected to be especially in a pinch. Thousands of reservations are expected to be cancelled, on top of decreasing numbers of guests due to the pandemic.

Many are waiting to see how the Tokyo Olympic committee will handle tickets, many of which were already distributed domestically. Experts anticipate that refunds will be offered to those who have already purchased tickets to events, though this hasn’t been decided yet.

Before the postponement was decided, the Olympic torch had already arrived in Japan and had been touring the Tohoku region. The official torch relay was initially scheduled to start on March 26,
but officials had said they planned to make adjustments based on the new Olympic competition schedule.

Now, the torch will stay in Japan until the start of the 2021 Olympic Games.
                                 (454 words)

Key Words and Expressions

  1. global — affecting the world
  2. host country — a country that provides the necessary things and facilities for a worldwide event
  3. prioritize — to deal with the most important task first
  4. spectator — someone who watches something, like a game or an event
  5. stage the Games — to organize the Olympics
  6. inevitable — certain to happen and cannot be avoided
  7. the Summer Games — the Olympic Games held in summer
  8. estimate — an approximate calculation of how much something will cost
  9. refund — money that is returned for a certain reason, like an event cancellation
  10. make adjustments — to make changes in order to improve a thing or a situation

Reading Comprehension Test

Questions

  1. What prompted the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo to be postponed?
    a. A rough year for the Japanese tourism industry.
    b. Athletes not wanting to travel to Tokyo during the hot summer months.
    c. The coronavirus pandemic.
    d. The Olympic torch relay being cancelled.
  2. Which of the following is NOT true?
    a. The 2020 Olympics were expected to bring in hundreds of billions of yen.
    b. Japan and the IOC both spent most of February saying the Games would go 
     on.
    c. The hotel industry will be especially hit hard by the delay.
    d. Athletic organizations were angry because the Games were delayed.
  3. What will happen to tickets already sold for the 2020 Games in Tokyo?
    a. Customers will receive refunds if they wish.
    b. Customers can use them in 2021.
    c. Customers just have to lose the money they already spent.
    d. Nothing has been decided yet.
  4. Why does postponing the Olympics hurt hotels?
  5. What will happen to the Olympic torch?

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