(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2019 International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach (R) walks with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) as they leave the stage during a ceremony marking one year before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. – Japan has asked for a one-year postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games over the global coronavirus pandemic, and the International Olympic Committee has agreed, the country’s prime minister said on March 24, 2020. “I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100 percent agreement,” Shinzo Abe told reporters referring to Thomas Bach, head of the IOC. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP)In 2016, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe broke with his staid public image to pop up in Rio dressed as Super Mario for the official handover of the Olympic Games to Tokyo.
The stunt reflected his commitment to an event that was supposed to be the crowning glory of his tenure. But analysts say the historic delay of the Games over the coronavirus may not be all bad news for Abe.
If the country’s longest-serving premier can see off the twin threats of a larger-scale outbreak of the virus in Japan and a major economic crisis caused by the pandemic, he could even end up extending his tenure, due to expire in September 2021, experts say.