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During a normal Olympics, the host city is always abuzz with many non-sporting attractions, as well, such as the popular Olympic hospitality or partner venues set up by various nations and specialised groups.
In 2016, there were 52 of these in Rio, with 24 open to the public. The other 28 were restricted venues for national Olympic committees and their athletes, officials and sponsors, but they were nevertheless an important sideshow.
Most of these have been cancelled in Tokyo, leaving one less avenue for the Japanese public and athletes to interact during the Olympics.
One of the most popular of these venues is Heineken House (affiliated with the Dutch Olympic Committee and its beer sponsor), but this iconic “party house” will not be found in Tokyo. It hosted 4,000 visitors a day in Rio.
Traditionally, major sponsors and other companies also offer extensive corporate hospitality programs for visitors. Coca-Cola, for instance, brings in thousands of guests – many from overseas – who receive complimentary event tickets, flights, accommodation, and food and beverages.
The absence of all of these crowds and amenities will certainly diminish the Olympic spirit in Tokyo. It will be a money-loser for the hosts, too.
One study estimated staging the Olympics without spectators will result in a US$23.1 billion loss for Japan — both in terms of direct spending linked to the games, and indirect economic effects from household consumption and tourism.
Has drug testing been compromised?
Another concern is the absence of drug testing in the lead-up to the games, due to the pandemic. Mack Horton, an Australian swimming gold medallist, said he wasn’t drug tested for nine months during the worst of the pandemic last year, though out-of-competition has reportedly picked up again at the start of 2021.
Drug testing has been, at best, inconsistent during the pandemic. Well-resourced countries with strong national anti-doping agencies have kept up their rigorous testing procedures, while other countries reliant on regional agencies have not.