Olympic rings back in Tokyo Bay; a sign of hope in pandemic

Sports

The Olympic Symbol is reinstalled after it was taken down for maintenance ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the Odaiba section Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (AP) — The five Olympic rings are back in Tokyo Bay.

They were removed for maintenance four months ago shortly after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rings arrived on Tuesday after a short cruise from nearby Yokohama and are positioned on a barge in the shadow on Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge.

The rings — painted blue, black, red, green, and yellow — are gigantic. They stand about 15 meters tall and 33 meters in length — about 50 feet tall and 100 feet in length.

The rings will be lighted at night and herald the coming of the Tokyo Olympics, which are to open on July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24.

The rings made their first appearance early in 2020, just a few months before the Olympics were postponed late in March.

The reappearance of the rings is the latest sign that organizers and the International Olympic Committee are increasingly confident that 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes can safely enter Japan during the pandemic.

These Olympics are sure to be like no other.

They will hinge partly on the availability of vaccines and rapid testing for COVID-19, and on athletes and other participants following strict rules that could involve quarantines, a limited number of fans in venues, and athletes leaving Japan shortly after they finish their competitions.

Organizers have been vague about exactly how the Olympics will be held. Plans are in flux with dozens of COVID-19 countermeasures being floated involving athletes, fans, and tens of thousands of officials, judges, VIPs, and media and broadcasters.

Protocols should become clearer early in 2021 when decisions must be made about permitting fans from abroad, which will affect revenue from ticket sales.

The meter continues to run on billions in costs, with Japanese taxpayers picking up most of the bills. Reports in Japan this week say thecost of the postponemen t is about $3 billion.

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