Asian Access adapts as Olympics officials reschedule

By March 25, 2020

[MARCH 30 UPDATE:  The Tokyo Olympic Games will start on July 23, 2021, and the Paralympic Games will take place between August 24 and September 5, 2021.]

Japan (MNN) — The coronavirus dealt another discouraging blow this week. Officials are postponing the Summer Olympic Games to 2021. More details here. The Olympics have been cancelled three times but never postponed.

“Japan as a society is disappointed that we’re having to delay. Likewise, all of us that are doing ministry related to the Olympics have a sense of disappointment. However, we also want the world to be safe,” Joe Handley of Asian Access tells MNN.

“We realize what’s at stake so we’re trying to reach out in a different way to be the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of a crisis.”

Find our full coronavirus coverage here, and use this new Prayercast video to guide your prayers for the crisis.

Opportunity disguised as disappointment

The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to begin on July 24 and conclude August 9, with athletes competing in 33 sports. Although officials haven’t settled on a date yet, the postponed Olympics will still take place in Tokyo under the 2020 banner.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Asian Access began planning for ministry specific to the Tokyo Olympics six years ago. It was to be a highly-anticipated and distinctly-unique Gospel opportunity, Handley described earlier this year.

As it counted down the weeks to July 24, Asian Access and its in-country partners “have been actively preparing for the Games, and doing huge festivals… [trying to] build momentum towards those Games coming,” Handley says.

Now, “everything has been put on hold and as you can imagine… there’s some disappointment with that.”

Forecasters say rescheduling the Olympics could push Japan’s finances further into the red, possibly triggering a recession. Ministries like Asian Access share this fiscal concern. “We’d like to re-implement those plans that we have, but we have no idea the economic fallout and how it will impact ministries like ours,” Handley explains.

Yet, when one door of opportunity closes, God opens a new one.

“It’s a perfect time to be the hands and feet of Christ because this is a world that is in just great anxiety right now,” Handley says. Learn how ministry cohorts throughout Asia are responding to the coronavirus crisis.

“We’re trying to do some new online activity, moving into the digital space, and we’re going to need funding for that. I’m sure that most ministries are facing many of these same predicaments.”

Next steps

Now that you know, how will you respond? First, seek the Lord’s guidance. Then, follow where He leads.

“Anything we can do to gather together in community, whether that’s via an online format or calling people, [is] encouraging. We need to realize that we are in this together,” Handley says.

“Christ has given us hope. There’s been many disasters over the years, and every time His promises ring true.”



Header image courtesy of Marco Verch via Flickr.

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