all-around win — seemed to gain traction not so much on TV but in snippets shared on social media. That trend has been apparent in the number of followers for NBCUniversal’s Olympics channel on TikTok, which have shot up 348 percent since the opening ceremony.

Those who decide to watch must choose from a jumble of channels and digital options. In addition to NBC, the coverage is spread across NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA Network, the Olympic Channel, the Golf Channel, the Spanish-language channels Universo and Telemundo, not to mention NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

There are so many choices that NBC’s “Today” show brought in Steve Kornacki, the political correspondent best known for elucidating election results, to break it all down. “If you’re a badminton fan, you’re going to be looking for NBCSN,” he told viewers. “If you’re an archery fan, USA Network. There’s all sorts of different possibilities!”

Jim Bell, who stepped away from Tokyo planning in 2018 when the company placed him in charge of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He left that program and NBC a year later.

Ms. Solomon said she has been waking up at 4:30 a.m. in Tokyo and relying on double-shot lattes to get her through workdays that may go till 11 p.m. She does not share the opinion of some critics of the coverage.

“Every day, new stars arise, and new stories come to the fore,” she said. “So, personally, I don’t want it to end.”

In the view of Mr. Costas, who guided viewers through NBC’s Olympics coverage from 1992 through 2016, any comparison of the Tokyo games with previous competitions is not fair, given the pall cast by the pandemic. And three years from now, if all goes according to plan, NBCUniversal will get what amounts to a do-over in Paris.

“Paris 2024 will be, we hope, fingers crossed, much more like a classic Olympics situation,” he said. “That will be a more legitimate test.”

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Skipping the Olympics Is ‘Not an Option’ for Many Advertisers

The Olympics have long been an almost ideal forum for companies looking to promote themselves, with plenty of opportunities for brands to nestle ads among the pageantry and feel-good stories about athletes overcoming adversity — all for less than the price of a Super Bowl commercial.

But now, as roughly 11,000 competitors from more than 200 countries convene in Tokyo as the coronavirus pandemic lingers, Olympic advertisers are feeling anxious about the more than $1 billion they have spent to run ads on NBC and its Peacock streaming platform.

Calls to cancel the more than $15.4 billion extravaganza have intensified as more athletes test positive for Covid-19. The event is also deeply unpopular with Japanese citizens and many public health experts, who fear a superspreader event. And there will be no spectators in the stands.

“The Olympics are already damaged goods,” said Jules Boykoff, a former Olympic soccer player and an expert in sports politics at Pacific University. “If this situation in Japan goes south fast, then we could see some whipsaw changes in the way that deals are cut and the willingness of multinational companies to get involved.”

blow to the Games on Monday when it said it had abandoned its plans to run Olympics-themed television commercials in Japan.

In the United States, marketing plans are mostly moving ahead.

For NBCUniversal, which has paid billions of dollars for the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States through 2032, the event is a crucial source of revenue. There are more than 140 sponsors for NBC’s coverage on television, on its year-old streaming platform Peacock and online, an increase over the 100 that signed on for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“Not being there with an audience of this size and scale for some of our blue-chip advertisers is not an option,” said Jeremy Carey, the managing director of the sports marketing agency Optimum Sports.

Michelob Ultra commercial, the sprinting star Usain Bolt points joggers toward a bar. Procter & Gamble’s campaign highlights good deeds by athletes and their parents. Sue Bird, a basketball star, promotes the fitness equipment maker Tonal in a spot debuting Friday.

campaign featuring profiles of Olympic athletes.

“We do think people will continue to tune in, even without fans, as they did for all kinds of other sports,” Mr. Brandt said. “It’s going to be a diminishing factor in terms of the excitement, but we also hope that the Olympics are a bit of a unifier at a time when the country can seem to be so divided every day.”

NBCUniversal said it had exceeded the $1.2 billion in U.S. ad revenue it garnered for the 2016 Games in Rio and had sold all of its advertising slots for Friday’s opening ceremony, adding that it was still offering space during the rest of the Games. Buyers estimate that the price for a 30-second prime-time commercial exceeds $1 million.

Television has attracted the bulk of the ad spending, but the amount brought in by digital and streaming ads is on the rise, according to Kantar. Several forecasts predict that TV ratings for the Olympics will lag the Games in Rio and London, while the streaming audience will grow sharply.

NBCUniversal said that during the so-called upfront negotiation sessions this year, when ad buyers reserve spots with media companies, Peacock had received $500 million in commitments for the coming year.

“You won’t find a single legacy media company out there that is not pushing their streaming capabilities for their biggest events,” Mr. Carey, the Optimum Sports executive, said. “That’s the future of where this business is going.”

United Airlines, a sponsor of Team U.S.A., scrapped its original ad campaign, one that promoted flights from the United States to Tokyo. Its new effort, featuring the gymnast Simon Biles and the surfer Kolohe Andino, encourages a broader return to air travel.

showcasing skateboarders. “People are quite fragile at the moment. Advertisers don’t want to be too saccharine or too clever but are trying to find that right tone.”

Many companies advertising during the Games are running campaigns that they had to redesign from scratch after the Olympics were postponed last year.

“We planned it twice,” said Mr. Carey of Optimum Sports. “Think about how much the world has changed in that one year, and think about how much each of our brands have changed what they want to be out there saying or doing or sponsoring. So we crumpled it up, and we started over again.”

FIFA World Cup in Qatar in late 2022 and the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, both of which have put the advertising industry in a difficult position because of China’s and Qatar’s poor records on human rights.

First, though, ad executives just want the Tokyo Games to proceed without incident.

“We’ve been dealing with these Covid updates every day since last March,” said Kevin Collins, an executive at the ad-buying and media intelligence firm Magna. “I’m looking forward to them starting.”

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Japan Extends Emergency Measures Before Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — Japan on Friday extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions until the end of May to contain a surge of coronavirus cases, casting further doubt on the country’s ability to safely host the Summer Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in 11 weeks.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the announcement at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force, saying that the measures were necessary because infections remain at a “high level, mainly in large cities.”

The announcement extends emergency measures imposed last month to two more prefectures, covering a total of six prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, that are together home to over a third of Japan’s 126 million people. Another eight prefectures will be under slightly looser restrictions.

The existing state of emergency, which were imposed to curb travel during the just-ended Golden Week holiday period and had been set to expire next week, have not slowed Japan’s fourth wave of coronavirus infections. In early March, the country recorded about 1,000 daily new. It is now recording nearly 6,000, according to a New York Times database.

first detected in India. The authorities in Tokyo say that in four out of five cases found in the city, the infected person neither traveled abroad nor had close contact with someone who had.

The outbreak is stretching health care systems even in Japan’s biggest cities. On Thursday, there were 370 people being treated for serious cases of Covid-19 in Osaka, a prefecture of nine million people, more than the number of hospital beds available for seriously ill patients.

Japan, which has recorded more than 620,000 infections and 10,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, has controlled the virus better than many countries. But the government has faced criticism for the sluggish pace of vaccinations, and for pledging to go ahead with the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 23, despite widespread public opposition.

Toru Hashimoto, a lawyer and a former governor of Osaka prefecture, said on a television show on Friday that Olympic organizers were ignoring the severity of Japan’s outbreak, and that it was inappropriate to continue holding pre-Olympic “test events” during the state of emergency, even though they are taking place without spectators.

“If the government wants to reduce the number of people in the city, it’s not a time when test events can be held,” Mr. Hashimoto said.

The government has imposed two previous states of emergency during the pandemic, although they are looser than the total lockdowns seen in many nations. The measures allow the prefectures to ask businesses to close or to restrict their hours, and to fine those that do not.

Under the extended state of emergency, people are asked not to go out for nonessential matters, especially after 8 p.m., and to refrain from traveling outside their prefectures. Public events are to be held without spectators. Karaoke parlors are asked to close, and restaurants requested not to serve alcohol, with fines of up to 300,000 yen, or $2,750, for noncompliance.

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How Can the Olympics Protect 78,000 Volunteers From the Coronavirus?

TOKYO — For Olympic host cities, one of the keys to a successful Games is the army of volunteers who cheerfully perform a range of duties, like fetching water, driving Olympic vehicles, interpreting for athletes or carrying medals to ceremonies.

If the rescheduled Tokyo Games go ahead as planned this summer, roughly 78,000 volunteers will have another responsibility: preventing the spread of the coronavirus, both among participants and themselves.

For protection, the volunteers are being offered little more than a couple of cloth masks, a bottle of sanitizer and mantras about social distancing. Unless they qualify for vaccination through Japan’s slow age-based rollout, they will not be inoculated against the coronavirus.

“I don’t know how we’re going to be able to do this,” said Akiko Kariya, 40, a paralegal in Tokyo who signed up to volunteer as an interpreter. The Olympic committee “hasn’t told us exactly what they will do to keep us safe.”

assure the globe that Tokyo can pull off the Games in the midst of a pandemic, the volunteers have been left largely on their own to figure out how to avoid infection.

Much of the planning for the postponed Olympics has a seat-of-the-pants quality. With less than three months to go before the opening ceremony, the organizers have yet to decide whether domestic spectators will be admitted, or hammer out details about who, besides the athletes, will be tested regularly.

Tens of thousands of participants will descend on Tokyo from more than 200 countries after nearly a year in which Japan’s borders have been largely closed to outsiders. The volunteers’ assignments will bring them into contact with many of the Olympic visitors, as they pass in and out of a “bubble” that will encompass the Olympic Village and other venues.

leaflet distributed to volunteers advises them to ask visitors to stand at least one meter — a little over three feet — apart. During shifts, they should disinfect their hands frequently. If offering assistance to someone, they should avoid directly facing the other person and never talk without a mask.

“Mask wearing and hand washing are very basic, but doing that to the max is the most important thing we can do,” said Natsuki Den, senior director of volunteer promotion for the Tokyo organizing committee.

“People often say, ‘That is so basic, is that all you can do?’” Ms. Den said. But if every volunteer implements these basic measures, she said, “it can really limit the risk. Beyond that, it is hard to think of any magic countermeasures, because they don’t really exist.”

Even as a majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to hosting the Olympics this year, many volunteers say they are committed, at least in principle, to fostering international fellowship after more than a year of isolation. (The ranks of volunteers did take a sizable hit when about 1,000 volunteers quit after the first president of the Tokyo organizing committee, Toshiro Mori, made sexist comments.)

But volunteers worry about their own health as well as the safety of the athletes and other Olympic participants, especially as Tokyo experiences new spikes in virus cases. The capital is currently under a state of emergency.

“I am scared that I would get the virus and show no symptoms, and accidentally give it to the athletes,” said Yuto Hirano, 30, who works at a technology company in Tokyo and is assigned to help athletes backstage at the Paralympics events for boccia, a ball sport. “I want to protect myself so that I can protect them.”

postponed last year encouraged them to “address people with a smile.” In online sessions and other messaging since, Ms. Holthus said, “they still keep saying, ‘Oh, and your smile is going to be so important.’”

“We’re supposed to be wearing masks,” she said. “So I find that very insensitive.”

Not every volunteer has serious concerns about safety. Some said that they expected widespread compliance with the rules, given what’s on the line.

“I think athletes will do whatever it takes to participate in the Olympics,” said Philbert Ono, a travel writer, photographer and translator.

“If we tell them to wear a mask, they will wear a mask,” he said. “When they have meals, they will sit way far apart and separated and facing only one direction. So I think they are very disciplined and they know what is at stake.”

Hikari Hida contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — Spectators from overseas will not be allowed to attend the Summer Olympics in Japan, organizers said on Saturday, making a major concession to the realities of Covid-19 even as they forged ahead with plans to hold the world’s largest sporting event.

The Tokyo Games, which begin in July, were originally scheduled for 2020 but were delayed by a year because of the pandemic. The Tokyo organizing committee has been scrambling to develop safety protocols to protect both participants and local residents from the virus. Concern has been running high in Japan, with big majorities saying in polls that the Games should not be held this summer.

The decision, which the Tokyo organizers made jointly with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the national and local governments in Japan, had been foreshadowed in the Japanese media for weeks.

Thomas Bach, the president of the I.O.C., has encouraged national organizing committees to secure vaccines for athletes, and he announced this month that China had offered to provide vaccinations for participants who required one ahead of the Games.

vaccine rollout has been relatively slow, the population will not be close to fully vaccinated by the time the Games start.

The organizing committees will now have the enormous headache of arranging refunds for ticket buyers. In bidding for the Games, the Tokyo organizers said that 7.8 million tickets would be made available. Typically, about 10 to 20 percent of Olympic tickets go to international spectators.

Japanese fans could take up some of the slack. Local demand for tickets far outstripped the supply, at least before the pandemic.

The coronavirus has had a comparatively muted effect on Japan, which has had far fewer cases and deaths than the United States and Western Europe. The country has reported just over 8,700 Covid-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

Japan declared a widespread state of emergency in early January after a rise in infections. Since then, most areas have lifted the declaration. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced this week that it would be ended in Tokyo.

a superfan who has attended 15 Olympics, bought about $8,600 in tickets for the Tokyo Games for himself and his nephew.

They were looking forward to seeing beach volleyball, archery, fencing, diving and a men’s basketball game and had tickets for the closing ceremony. According to terms from CoSport, the broker that handled ticket sales for U.S.-based fans, customers will not be repaid for some fees — which Mr. Brown said could cost him about $1,200 — and refunds could take time.

“Since we are being barred, it is only right for them to make everyone whole and refund all of the money paid,” Mr. Brown said before the official announcement was made. What’s more, he said, after waiting a whole year, he wanted his refund quickly. “It would be real painful watching this at home on TV and knowing they have the money, and not knowing when you’re going to get it back.”

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Tokyo Olympics Official Resigns After Calling Plus-Size Celebrity ‘Olympig’

TOKYO — It was few people’s idea of funny.

For the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, its creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki, envisioned a popular comedian and plus-size fashion designer, Naomi Watanabe, decked out in pig ears, tumbling from the sky as an Olympic messenger. Or, as he put it, an “Olympig.”

On Thursday, one day after a Japanese magazine revealed that Mr. Sasaki, 66, had shared this idea with colleagues a year ago, he resigned and apologized. His departure came weeks after the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, 83, stepped down after coming under widespread criticism for saying that women talk too much in meetings.

In response to the outrage over Mr. Mori, the organizing committee has been scrambling just months before the start of the Games to place women in leadership positions in an attempt to rectify its image as a stodgy “old men’s club.”

Mr. Sasaki’s quick resignation was a sharp contrast to Mr. Mori’s exit. While Mr. Mori apologized quickly for his sexist comment, he initially said he would not resign, and none of Japan’s top government officials demanded his departure.

online petitions to unseat him, protests from female lawmakers in opposition parties and concerns from some Olympic sponsors.

In the case of Mr. Sasaki, a former advertising executive who was put in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies in December, he submitted his resignation just hours after the article appeared on the website of Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine.

Mr. Sasaki said in a statement on Thursday that he had made his remark in a group chat with colleagues on a messaging app. Several criticized his idea as insulting, he said, and he quoted two of them.

“It’s impossible to compare a woman to a pig,” one said. Another wrote, “Even if that’s a spontaneous idea, you shouldn’t say that.”

Mr. Sasaki said he had taken their responses to heart and had taken back his suggestion. But he did not decide to resign until reporters contacted him for their article.

swaggering dance performances of Beyoncé songs, and she has been called “the Japanese Beyoncé” in the media. A champion for body positivity in a country that largely prizes thinness in women, she has joked about feeling most liberated when eating ice cream in bed and how a muscular sumo wrestler embodies her ideal body type.

Punyus, and was named a global brand ambassador of Kate Spade in 2020. This month, she said that she was moving to the United States to build her entertainment career there, and that she had secured representation from ICM Partners and IMG Models.

Seiko Hashimoto, who replaced Mr. Mori as president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, said on Thursday that she was shocked by Mr. Sasaki’s remark about Ms. Watanabe, calling it “inappropriate and very regrettable.”

She first learned about Mr. Sasaki’s comment from the Shukan Bunshun article, she said in a news briefing. The committee was in the process of verifying the report, she said, when Mr. Sasaki called her late Wednesday to explain what had happened and offer his resignation.

“In light of his firm decision to resign, and in light of the fact that we have made gender equality a focus,” Ms Hashimoto said, “I have accepted and thanked him for his many contributions.”

When asked if she would have preferred that he stay, given that the opening ceremony is just four months away, Ms. Hashimoto said, “Yes, I had that feeling.” But after hearing his determination to resign, she added, she accepted.

Mr. Sasaki, who was already in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Paralympic Games, had the ceremonies for the Olympic Games added to his portfolio after the event was postponed last year because of the pandemic. He had said the Olympic ceremonies would be scaled down, to reflect the sacrifices of the past year.

He also directed the flag handover ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the Japanese prime minister at the time, Shinzo Abe, appeared dressed as Mario, the Nintendo video game character.

Makiko Inoue and Motoko Rich reported from Tokyo, and Tiffany May from Hong Kong.

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