Uncertainty over Russia’s participation for the third consecutive Olympics and concerns over the heat hang heavy over Tokyo 2020 preparations, with only six months until the opening ceremony.
The Japanese capital has avoided many of the crises that dogged previous Games — International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach said the city is the best prepared host city he has seen, with facilities complete well ahead of schedule and tickets massively oversubscribed.
But elements largely out of organizers’ control have overshadowed the run-up to the 2020 Games, the second time they will have been held in Tokyo after 1964, when a post-war Japan wowed the world with its technological prowess and economic “miracle”.
Chief among these is whether Russian athletes will compete after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) imposed a four-year ban from international sporting events over what it views as a state-sponsored doping scheme.
Moscow has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but sources have told AFP a decision is not expected before May, just weeks before the Games open on July 24.
Bach has urged CAS, the world’s highest sports court, to give a decision that “does not leave room for any kind of interpretation”, warning of “real, total confusion” if the ruling is not watertight.
Russia’s up-in-the-air participation follows confusion at the Rio Games, where the IOC allowed individual federations to decide whether to permit athletes to compete.