Jan 22, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 408 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Tokyo 2021 Olympics in danger

Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Less than six months ahead of its new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured about the Tokyo Olympics: "canceled," Axios' Kendall Baker reports.

  • The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, according to The Times of London (subscription).
  • "No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it's too difficult," a source told The Times. "Personally, I don't think it's going to happen."

The source said the focus is now on securing the Olympics for the city in the next available year, 2032. Paris hosts in 2024, while L.A. hosts in 2028.

  • The other side: The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government insist that the Games are still on, calling the report "categorically untrue."

The big picture: Cases are surging in Tokyo, and the country's lack of testing (~55,000 PCR tests daily) limits its true understanding of the spread.

The bottom line: A final decision likely won't be made until the latest possible date, which is probably March 25.

2. 1 historic thing
A 2011 photo of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (L) and Gen. Lloyd Austin (R) over Baghdad. Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

The first Black man to run the Pentagon: The Senate confirmed retired Gen. Lloyd Austin by a 93-2 vote.

  • He secured a waiver from the House and Senate because the law requires seven years between retirement and serving as secretary of defense.
  • The only "no" votes: Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
3. Catch up quick
Photo: Ron Sherman/MPTV via Reuters
  1. RIP: Hank Aaron died today at the age of 86. He was the record holder for home runs, RBIs, total bases, games played, at-bats, and plate appearances when he retired in 1976 after 23 years in the majors. — ESPN
  2. The House will deliver the article of impeachment on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said today. Go deeper.
  3. The lobbying firm run by Trump ally Matt Schlapp brought in $750,000 in the final two weeks of 2020 from a former top Trump fundraiser and convicted fraudster who retained Schlapp to lobby — unsuccessfully — for a presidential pardon. Go deeper.
  4. A big one: Longtime journalist Dan Rather is launching a newsletter on Substack.
  5. 🎧 Axios Re:Cap digs into the vaccination bottlenecks and how to unclog them with Carbon Health chief executive Eren Bali. Listen here.
4. Pic du jour
Photo: Mary Schwalm via AP

This is a collection of empties from beer consumed during the pandemic at a home in North Andover, Massachusetts.

  • A raging pandemic, tumultuous presidential election and deadly Capitol insurrection have combined to make the annual tradition of Dry January more moist than air-tight for some, AP reports.