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更新时间:2020-3-23 9:14:06 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名 浏览:

Will the Olympics Go On? Japan’s Businesses Would Like to Know

TOKYO — Toshiya Fujita just wants somebody to make a decision already.

东京——藤田俊也(Toshiya Fujita,音)只是想有人早点做出决定。

Mr. Fujita, the managing director of a leather goods wholesaler in Tokyo, is trying to figure out how many Olympics key chains to order. Like hundreds of business managers in Japan, he is caught in a will-they-or-won’t-they guessing game about whether the Tokyo Olympics will be staged this summer even as the coronavirus continues its deadly march around the globe.


An increasing number of athletes, experts and ordinary people in Japan are convinced that the Games cannot be held. But the Japanese organizers and the International Olympic Committee have steadfastly maintained that the show will go on, with the committee saying on Tuesday that “there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage.”


The uncertainty has left a whole ecosystem surrounding the Games stuck in a holding pattern. Businesses as large as Coca-Cola, Toyota, Samsung and Google, which are sponsoring the event, and as small as hotels, Airbnb operators, security companies and travel agents are simultaneously preparing for the Games while bracing for their possible cancellation.


Mr. Fujita’s company, Moriya, is among them. “If the Games are canceled, we will end up having leftover products,” he said. “So we would appreciate it if we get some direction in March about whether the Games will be held or not.”


Japan has huge financial incentives to delay a decision as long as possible, gambling that there will be a drastic change in the course of the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 8,000 people around the world. An outright cancellation of the Games, which are scheduled to begin in late July, could be economically disastrous for a country already on the brink of recession.


Jun Saito, senior research fellow at the Japan Center for Economic Research, said the country had invested between $32 billion and $41 billion in building competition venues and adding hotel capacity.

日本经济研究中心(Japan Center for Economic Research)高级研究员斋藤润(Jun Saito)说,日本在建设竞赛场馆和增加酒店客容量上已投入了320亿至410亿美元。

“The financial burden of these public companies who have invested in expectation of the Games is going to be very significant,” Mr. Saito said.


Some businesses have already been damaged by the suggestion that the Olympics will be affected. “It’s a mess,” said Toru Suzuki, the owner of Fukuyoshi Ryokan, an inn in the Ueno neighborhood of Tokyo.

奥运会将受影响的说法已经给一些企业造成了损害。“情况一团糟,”东京上野区福吉日式旅馆(Fukuyoshi Ryokan)的老板铃木彻(Toru Suzuki,音)说。

He said he had no bookings for the Olympic period, on top of a current 70 to 80 percent collapse in business as tourists from China and elsewhere cease to travel. “With cancellations one after another for April, we don’t have any reservations after that,” Mr. Suzuki said.


For others, hope of big profits has turned into fear for the future. Tsuyoshi and Izumi Fukase built a new house on Enoshima, an island off Tokyo where Olympic sailing events are scheduled to be held, in the hopes of renting it to athletes or fans.

对另外一些人来说,对大笔利润的期待已经化为对未来的恐惧。奥运帆船比赛安排在在东京都附近的江之岛(Enoshima)举行,深瀬刚和妻子深瀬泉(Tsuyoshi and Izumi Fukase,音)在那里建造了一座新房子,希望将其出租给运动员或球迷。

They said that, for now, athletes from Germany have booked the two-bedroom home for the duration of the Games.


“If the Games are canceled or postponed, we will be devastatingly worn down by the coronavirus,” Mr. Fukase said. “We were expecting record profits, so this huge blow financially would affect us severely.” He said the couple were worried about being able to cover their mortgage.


The Olympics have stood virtually alone in the sports world as major events like the Kentucky Derby and the French Open have been postponed or canceled and even the deputy chief of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Kozo Tashima, has contracted the coronavirus.

在体育界,随着肯塔基德比(Kenturky Derby)和法国网球公开赛这样的重大赛事被推迟或取消,奥运会是唯一仅存的重大体育活动,而现在,甚至连日本奥委会副主席田嶋幸三(Kozo Tashima)也染上了冠状病毒。

After speaking with the leaders of the Group of 7 countries on Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wanted to go forward with the Olympics “as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus,” adding that the leaders supported his position.


Such statements have fed a sense of cognitive dissonance that pervades many discussions of the Olympics’ fate.


On Tuesday, Japan’s organizing committee said that its chairman, Yoshiro Mori, would not travel to Greece for the Olympic torch handover ceremony because of concerns about the spread of the virus in Europe. Along the route for the torch relay in Japan, which is set to begin on March 26, the committee is barring the public from events welcoming runners in three prefectures and has asked those with symptoms to stay away from the course.

日本奥组委周二表示,由于担心该病毒在欧洲的传播,主席森喜朗(Yoshiro Mori)不会前往希腊参加奥运会的火炬交接仪式。在定于3月26日开始的日本火炬传递路线上,该委员会禁止三个县的公众参加欢迎火炬手的活动,并要求有症状的人远离活动路线。

Many of the qualifying events for Olympic slots have been canceled or moved, and some athletes have been unable to train because of lockdowns in their countries — challenges that the International Olympic Committee acknowledged on Tuesday.


Experts said the committee and Japanese officials should concede to reality and announce a postponement or cancellation of the Games.


“We would all like it to be a different outcome,” said Nancy Snow, a professor of public diplomacy at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. “But this is the inevitable, and they need to pull the plug now.”

“我们都不希望这样的结局,”京都外国语大学公共外交教授南希·斯诺(Nancy Snow)说。“但这是不可避免的,他们现在需要放弃。”

“They have to show that they are taking this seriously and are willing to self-sacrifice,” Ms. Snow added.


Some said that a delay of a year, although a logistical nightmare, would be the best course.


“I think there is good reason that Japan could argue that it is just not fair” to cancel the Games altogether, said Takuji Okubo, North Asia director of the Economist Corporate Network.

经济学人企业网络(Economist Corporate Network)北亚总监大久保琢史(Takuji Okubo)说,对于彻底取消这届奥运会,“我认为日本完全有理由认为这是不公平的。”

“You would leave a very bad precedent for the Olympic Committee so the next city and the city after that would be aware of this risk,” which might deter future cities from bidding to host the Games, he added.


As the Japanese government and the organizing committee push to keep the Games on for 2020, they are relying in part on Japan’s relatively low reported rate of coronavirus infections and deaths.


So far, Japan has confirmed 882 cases and 29 deaths, far fewer than many other countries. But the country also has a relatively low rate of testing for the virus. Japan has conducted 32,125 tests in the past month, about the number that neighboring South Korea conducted in three days during the peak of its outbreak.


As a result, some analysts said, visitors might be wary of coming to Japan, wondering whether there are thousands of undetected cases.


“We are not 100 percent sure everything is really under control in Japan,” said Eunjung Lim, an associate professor of international relations at Kongju National University in Gongju, South Korea, who specializes in Japan and South Korea.

韩国公州市公州国立大学专门研究日韩的国际关系副教授林恩贞(Eunjung Lim,音)说:“我们不是百分百确定日本的一切都在掌控之中。”

Ms. Lim said that Japan’s handling of the quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, in which more than 700 people were infected and eight people have died, has also cast a shadow over Japan’s reputation for managing outbreaks.


Japan, too, may not want to invite visitors from hard-hit regions in Europe or, if things get much worse, the United States. Largely unaffected countries in South America might soon start to see a surge in cases. On Wednesday, Japan expanded its border controls on visitors from China, South Korea, Italy and Iran to include parts of Spain and Switzerland and all of Iceland.


On Wednesday in Parliament, Taro Aso, Japan’s finance minister, said it “would not make sense” to hold the Olympics if athletes from many countries could not attend.


“As the prime minister said, it’s desirable to hold the Olympics in an environment where everyone feels safe and happy,” said Mr. Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. “But that’s not something Japan alone can decide.”


According to a poll this week by Kyodo News, a Japanese news service, close to 70 percent of Japanese say the Tokyo Games cannot go on as scheduled. And some people are already anticipating a change.

根据日本新闻社共同社(Kyodo News)本周的一项民意调查,近70%的日本人认为东京奥运会无法如期举行。而且有些人已经在期待改变。

On Tuesday afternoon at an official Olympics store just steps away from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, a handful of people browsed shelves full of branded merchandise ranging from T-shirts and sneakers to traditional cast-iron teakettles.


In the months since the coronavirus first appeared, tourism to Japan has slowed to a trickle, and foot traffic at the shop has dropped by about 80 percent, according to one employee.


Jun Yoshikawa, 60, visited the store on his lunch break to buy a key holder.

60岁的吉川润(Jun Yoshikawa,音)在午休时间造访该店,购买了钥匙扣。

Although he won tickets to see the Olympics diving competition through an official lottery, he figures the Games might be delayed. “So I better go ahead and get something as a keepsake,” he said.