Welcome 2021: The year of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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FILE - In this June 3, 2020, photo, the Olympic rings float in the water at sunset in the Odaiba section in Tokyo. The year of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has arrived. That would be 2021. Ever since the Olympics were postponed nine months ago, local organizers and the IOC have been biding their time. Theyve said well have to wait until early in 2021 for details about how the Olympics can open on July 23 in the middle of a pandemic. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO – The year of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is arriving. That would be 2021.

Ever since the Olympics were postponed nine months ago, local organizers and the IOC have been biding their time. They've said we'll have to wait until early in 2021 for details about how the Olympics can open on July 23 in the middle of a pandemic.

That time is here.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers will have to start getting specific in the next few months. Though modest by global standards, the virus is surging in Japan with just over 3,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

The variant strain has been detected in the country, and reports say vaccines will not be widely available until March; not to mention the availability of the vaccine in the other 205 nations or territories expected to be represented in Tokyo.

The clock is ticking. The Japanese public appears more skeptical daily about the wisdom of holding the Olympics. In a telephone poll of 1,200 people this month, 63% said the Olympics should be postponed or canceled.

In an interview this month with CNN, Michael Phelps — the most decorated Olympian in history with 28 medals (23 gold) — said he was doubtful the Olympics should be held. The IOC has said they cannot be postponed again and will be canceled this time.

That would put the focus on Beijing's 2022 Winter Olympics and threats of a boycott tied to China's internment of at least 1 million Muslim Uighurs.