Opinion: Olympic leaders’ nightmare scenario has become reality in Tokyo

Written by on July 19, 2021

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How COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the Tokyo Olympic video games

The Tokyo Olympic video games are happening as COVID-19 charges surge in Japan. Here’s what athletes, followers and the media can anticipate to face.

Simply the FAQs, USA TODAY

TOKYO – As predictable because the information is, it’s nonetheless gorgeous. An American feminine gymnast who’s an alternate on the wildly common U.S. Olympic gymnastics group has examined optimistic for the coronavirus. 4 days earlier than the opening ceremony of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Video games’ nightmare situation has develop into a actuality.

Final 12 months, COVID-19 altered the course of those Video games, forcing their postponement for a 12 months. Now it has hooked up itself to the U.S. group, though the 4 alternates on the ladies’s gymnastics group have been for essentially the most half completely separate from the primary group, together with famous person Simone Biles, since all of them traveled to Japan. 

Gymnast Kara Eaker, 18, was the athlete who examined optimistic, coach Al Fong confirmed in a textual content message to USA TODAY Sports activities on Monday night time. She is quarantining in a resort, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee stated. 

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The coronavirus is also within the Olympic Village. 4 circumstances have been confirmed there: two South African males’s soccer gamers, a South African males’s soccer group video analyst and a Czech male seaside volleyball participant.

So are these going to be often called the COVID Olympics? How can they not be?

Olympic organizers had hoped in opposition to hope that the pandemic wouldn’t have an effect on the Tokyo Video games any greater than it already had. Now their worst fears have been realized. They may not preserve the virus out of the village, nor may they preserve it out of the marquee American Olympic group. The virus is in every single place, so in fact it’s right here too, means too shut for consolation now for the U.S. group.

For 16 months, we’ve watched sports activities attempt their finest to hold on within the midst of a world pandemic. Some have succeeded; the bubblized NBA and WNBA instantly come to thoughts.

Others haven’t. Highschool, faculty {and professional} groups have had video games canceled, seasons interrupted and gamers quarantined. VCU males’s basketball, the Washington Nationals and North Carolina State baseball seem on that record.

The Tokyo Olympics are counting on a whole lot of quasi-bubbles throughout this huge metropolis to attempt to preserve greater than 10,000 athletes secure. However this isn’t one group or one league and even one sport. That is the biggest recurrently scheduled peacetime gathering of the world. Greater than 200 international locations take part. It’s stuffed with younger people who find themselves fearless in life, which is a superb high quality for his or her sport, not a lot for avoiding COVID-19.

Whereas there all the time is concern for many who check optimistic, there may be an excellent larger fear: contact-tracing knocking an athlete out of his or her occasion, typically a once-in-a-lifetime expertise. Now that the coronavirus is within the Olympic Village, and throughout the confines of the U.S. group, is contact tracing subsequent?

I requested Brian McCloskey, chair of an impartial skilled panel advising the Worldwide Olympic Committee on COVID-19, what he thought the chances have been that an Olympic athlete can be contact-traced out of his or her occasion.

“I believe it’s doable,” was his less-than-reassuring reply. “It’s one thing that would occur. We attempt very onerous to ensure it doesn’t occur. We handle in addition to we are able to.” 

The logical follow-up: Is the village secure?

“Sure,” he stated confidently. 

We’ll see. He’s the well being skilled, however we’ve watched this illness up shut for 16 months, so we all know it too. We’re conscious of the way it spreads, significantly among the many unvaccinated, which is essential as a result of vaccines will not be obligatory at these Video games. We are able to speculate without end on what may need been had vaccines been required, however they aren’t, so right here we’re.

All these athletes, collectively on buses, in dorm rooms, in hallways, in venues. They’re carrying masks, or at the least they’re alleged to be. Nonetheless, the coronavirus could be very a lot on the market amongst them, and as we’re discovering out, it’s as unrelenting an opponent as they’ll ever face.

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