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A golden year for sport? 2021 is already looking like 2020 – with a bitter twist | Sean Ingle

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The Olympics and Euros will likely take place in pared back form, but the overall landscape is looking a lot more like it was in 2020 than we were expecting just a month ago

Do you know how many days there are until the Olympic Games get under way? Precisely 200. Imagine it. The darkness of the Tokyo skyline. A lone runner scampering up a giant staircase, torch in hand. A roar from the 60,000 fans inside Japan’s National Stadium. Then raging illumination. It will be some sight … if it happens. Meanwhile this year’s other sporting mega-event, football’s European Championship, is barely five months away, but still there remains an expectation that millions of fans will be able to travel safely to 51 matches across 12 European cities.

Back in the real world, Japan has shut its borders until the end of the month, the Tokyo metropolitan government has asked the central government to declare a state of emergency, and most of Europe is in ever-tighter lockdown. Increasingly it feels like an act of faith, rather than science, to expect the Olympics and Euros to take place with every familiar frill, as if the last 12 months were just a bad dream. Already there are echoes of the great shutdown of 2020. The World Athletics Indoor Championships, scheduled for China in March, have been pushed back again.

Related: Fresh fears for Tokyo Olympics as host city sees surge in Covid-19 infections

Related: Back to the future: Team GB gear up for delayed Tokyo Games

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