Tokyo announces new creative team in rush to streamline ceremonies

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Olympic rings reinstallation at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Olympics officials on Wednesday announced a new creative team that will be responsible for redesigning the opening and closing ceremonies at next year's Games, which will be pared back due to COVID-19 safeguards.

The new creative team will be headed by Hiroshi Sasaki, who was one of seven directors previously responsible for the opening and closing events.

Sasaki said his team was now running on a tight schedule to revamp plans for "simplified" ceremonies.

"Conditions are fairly tough... But, at this stage, honestly, progress isn't being made yet," Sasaki told a press conference.

The Games, originally scheduled to start this summer, were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely disrupted the international sporting calendar.

Since then, organisers and government officials have been looking at ways to cut costs, simplify the Games and safeguard athletes and spectators. Still, there has been lingering doubt about the viability of holding a large-scale, global event as the pandemic continues to rage.

Although the ceremony planners were short on details, Sasaki said he pictured the ceremonies as an opportunity to show the world a message of "breakthrough or hope" during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, organisers said they would spend $900 million on measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus at next year's Games.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski, Ju-min Park; Editing by Sam Holmes)