Korea downsizes delegation for Olympic opening ceremony - Korea Times
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Korea downsizes delegation for Olympic opening ceremony

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Seen above is Japan National Stadium to be used as the main venue of the pandemic-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Yonhap
Seen above is Japan National Stadium to be used as the main venue of the pandemic-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Yonhap

By Lee Min-hyung

The Korean Olympic delegation has decided to send less than a quarter of its athletes to the opening ceremony of the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics to ensure their safety amid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections in Tokyo.

According to the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee, some 50 athletes out of a total of 232 Korean athletes and six executives from the committee will take part in the ceremony.

The decision reflects the surge in COVID-19 cases there, with Tokyo reporting 1,387 daily coronavirus infections on Tuesday. This is almost double the number of daily cases seen on July 3 when the Olympic host city's daily infection cases reached 716.

Swimmer Hwang Sun-woo and volleyball star Kim Yeon-koung will be co-flag bearers on Friday for the symbolic opening event. But as Team Korea hopes to snatch multiple gold medals the following day, most athletes will skip the event and focus on maintaining their physical condition.

The Korean delegation anticipates winning multiple gold medals on Saturday by extending its dominance in archery, taekwondo and pistol shooting.

The belated opening of the Olympics continues to face uncertainties. There is a chance that the sporting event may be canceled partway through if the host city continues to be exposed to pandemic risks and the number of COVID-19 infections rise to a much more serious level.

A group of Japanese Olympic sponsor companies ― including Toyota, NTT and NEC ― are also set to miss the opening ceremony amid concerns that their Olympic participation, in itself, may pose a negative impact on their corporate images at this time of the global pandemic shock.

According to a recent poll by Ipsos, about eight out of every 10 Japanese opposed the opening of the Olympics. Another survey by the company also showed that about 57 percent of respondents in 28 countries urged Tokyo not to hold the event this year.

Lee Min-hyung mhlee@koreatimes.co.kr


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