The announcement that the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will feature a man-made meteor shower, certainly sparked some interest for a Games which have been beset by controversies to date.
Back in July 2015, the Japanese government scrapped plans for a $2 billion stadium envisioned as the centerpiece of the event due to concerns over rising costs and a growing public backlash.
Designers were eventually appointed in December, but just a month later the bidding process came under scrutiny when the second part of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission report into corruption was published.
The report detailed a conversation between another of Lamine Diack’s sons, Khalil, and Turkish officials leading the Istanbul bid team.
A “sponsorship” payment of between $4m and $5m US dollars had been made by Japanese organizers either to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) or the Diamond League series.
The report claims Istanbul lost the support of Lamine Diack, the IAAF boss at the time, because they did not pay.
Further payments from the Japanese were revealed earlier this month, with French prosecutors saying $2m had been paid to a Singapore-based company called Black Tidings to help secure the games.
The controversies surrounding the 2020 Games appear to mirror those which have hit the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Allegations of bribery and corruption in the selection process involving members of FIFA’s executive committee first surfaced in 2011, although these were subsequently retracted.
In March 2014, it was alleged that a firm linked to Qatar’s bid paid committee member Jack Warner and his family almost $2m.
Mohammed bin Hammam, former president of the Asian Football Confederation, came under scrutiny in June 2014 when The Sunday Times claimed to have evidence proving he had paid over $5m to football officials to support the Qatar bid.
Bin Hamman and all those accused of accepting bribes denied the charges.
Cultural issues regarding Qatar’s laws on homosexuality, along with major controversies involving the treatment of migrant workers tasked with building the infrastructure have also hit the headlines, but arguably the biggest talking point has been the timing of the tournament and its impact on the stadiums and the players.
The event is scheduled to be held between November and December 2022, timing which will cause major disruption to some of the world’s top leagues.
With the World Cup normally scheduled during the northern hemisphere’s summer months, the weather in Qatar came firmly into focus.
Temperatures of more than 50 degrees were a big concern for the players, leading FIFA to move the tournament to later in the year.
Despite the switch, organizers still plan to fit out the five stadiums with solar-powered air conditioning capable of reducing temperatures within each stadium by up to 20 degrees.
The technology will harness the power of the sun’s rays to provide a cool environment for players and fans by converting solar energy into electricity that will then be used to cool the stadiums.
When games are not taking place, the solar installations will export energy onto the power grid which will then be used during subsequent matches, creating a carbon neutral status for the venues.
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