Tokyo Olympics: definitely going ahead unless cancelled again?

The Olympic rings are spruced up and are once more overlooking Tokyo Bay. Countdown clocks are reset, telling passersby there are just 171 days to travel until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begin.

They are alleged to build excitement within the host city and among sports fans round the world. But Japan’s Olympic dream is quickly turning sour within the face of the worst global health crisis for a century.

Almost a year after Tokyo 2020 became the primary Games to be postponed within the modern Olympics’ 125-year history, officials and politicians faced opposition from the japanese public and, crucially, scepticism among athletes, sponsors and volunteers.

As the world grapples with an epidemic that has killed quite 2 million people, the official line is that the Games will open, as planned, on 23 July. In the week the organisers and therefore the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are thanked to release Covid “playbooks” detailing exactly how they shall make that happen.

“We aren't speculating whether the Games will take place,” Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, said recently. “We are working on how the Games will take place.”

The Olympics are kept off to the predicament they faced early last spring, when the pandemic forced organisers to concede that the Tokyo Games would need to be delayed by a year.

The rescheduled event, the then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said, would be a celebration of humankind’s victory over the coronavirus. But that mantra – repeated by his successor, Yoshihide Suga – is ringing hollow, with opinion polls showing that a once-enthusiastic Japanese population is now firmly against Tokyo 2020. during a recent survey by the Kyodo press agency , 80% thought the Games should either be postponed or cancelled altogether.

While the human cost of the coronavirus is dramatically above it had been last year, so too are the financial stakes for the IOC and therefore the Tokyo 2020 organisers now that they do not have the cushion of a second delay.

As the Olympic clock ticks, officials are looking to vaccination as a possible saviour – a part of a “toolbox” of measures that might make sure the Games could plow ahead “safely”, Bach said, with Denmark and Israel among the countries vowing to inoculate their entire delegations.

Wary of being seen to encourage young, healthy men and ladies to leap the vaccine queue, however, both Bach and Japanese officialdom have stated that vaccination isn't a condition for competing in Tokyo.

Dr. Dhillon Randeep

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