Opinion: Are Tokyo Olympics destined to be a disaster amid COVID-19?

Written by on July 22, 2021

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Tokyo Olympics: Two flag-bearers for the US have been introduced

The 2 flag-bearers for the U.S. on the Tokyo Olympics has been introduced: Girls’s basketball participant Sue Fowl and baseball participant Eddy Alvarez.

Workers Video, USA TODAY

TOKYO – The once-postponed, much-discussed, long-awaited, overbudget, terribly controversial 2020 Tokyo Olympics are lastly upon us.

The Video games don’t formally start till Friday night time’s opening ceremony, however we already know they may perpetually be generally known as the COVID Olympics. 

COVID-19 connected itself to Tokyo’s Olympics in March 2020, forcing the primary postponement within the historical past of the Olympic motion. Since then, the virus has by no means let go, creating headlines to today about optimistic exams within the Olympic Village and altering the panorama of those Video games with so many layers of security and safety that they’re virtually unrecognizable.

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Actually, no Olympic Video games has ever gone by means of extra to get to the beginning line, and no Olympics has ever appeared fairly like this. 

One wonders if all of it shall be value it. These polled in Japan have persistently answered with a powerful “No.” Maybe they’re proper. Maybe not. 

The solutions will begin to emerge because the Video games start with a gap ceremony in a crowdless stadium – a made-for-TV occasion if ever there have been one, with a smaller contingent of athletes marching in and waving to principally empty seats – however they won’t be absolutely recognized till months and even years from now. 

Will these Olympics, bringing collectively greater than 10,000 athletes from 206 international locations, change into a superspreader occasion, depositing illness and maybe even dying right here in largely unvaccinated Japan?

Or will they as a substitute deliver a sigh of aid and maybe even a touch of pleasure to the host nation and to the world, displaying that athletes can come collectively in relative security and concord whereas the pandemic rages in so many corners of the globe?

That possibility appears distant in the intervening time. The run-up to those Video games has been nothing however bother, at the same time as most athletes, coaches, officers and members of the media have efficiently entered Japan and are going about their lives as greatest as they will within the midst of large pandemic restrictions.

However these are an Olympics cloaked in worry, as if round each nook, extra unhealthy information awaits. It appears that evidently something that would go improper may go improper. The fixed drumbeat of optimistic coronavirus exams from the Olympic Village is a hanging instance. Getting by means of the subsequent 17 days unscathed appears as if it’ll take some kind of sports activities miracle.

“It’s actually laborious to consider one thing that may make you cheerful concerning the Olympics in the intervening time in any case the large controversy and arguments and adverse discussions,” Shinsuke Kobayashi, managing director of the Olympic and Paralympic information workplace for Japan’s Kyodo Information company, stated in an interview within the Principal Press Heart this week. 

“Within the brief time period, pleasure may happen and other people will take pleasure in watching TV, cheering the athletes, and it might need a little bit of an Olympic ambiance. However I’m apprehensive about what’s going to come afterward, after which we must suppose laborious what these Video games had been. In fact it will likely be recorded within the historical past why we had the Video games and why it turned out to be like this. We must have numerous pondering afterward. It’s a tragic state of affairs.” 

At some earlier Olympics, public discontent concerning the Video games steadily dissipated as spectators attended occasions and gathered in public squares to look at on big-screen TVs. This time there shall be none of that; the general public can neither purchase in nor take part these Video games. 

So the one factor that may save these Olympics is the efficiency of the athletes themselves. May COVID-19 take a again seat to memorable moments on the sphere of play? Worldwide Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach believes the athletes are able to burst out to supply these outcomes, having waited an additional yr for the chance.   

“I understand how a lot they’re eager for this second,” he stated, “that they will lastly be there and revel in this second underneath very particular circumstances and a sense of aid. I don’t have to inform you the highway to this opening ceremony was not the best one.”

Bach known as the eve of the Tokyo Olympics “a second of pleasure and aid.”

If he’s the truth is proper, we will see how lengthy it lasts. 

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