To be or not to be; the age old question is yet again directed on the 2020 Olympic Games, as Tokyo see a record peak in daily Covid‑19 cases.
Last week, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a state of emergency in Tokyo area, after the capital see days of record coronavirus counts and rapid death toll. The deaths in Japan have doubled in less than two months and the number of infected people in Tokyo has now surpassed 76,000.
John Coates, the Vice‑president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stated last year, that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics “will take place with or without Covid.”
“The Games will start on July 23, ” he stated.
On top of that, the IOC has announced earlier last year that the Games would not be delayed beyond 2021.
However, Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the IOC, says that there is no guarantee the Olympics will go ahead this summer.
Pound said: “I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus.”
The solution, according to Pound, is that Olympic athletes should be high up the priority list when it comes to getting vaccinated. He also suggested that the organisers could make it a condition for the competitors to declare they have been vaccinated before entering Japan.
The IOC have stated that athletes would not be obligated to do so but added:
“Athletes are important role models, and by taking the vaccine they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration for the wellbeing of others in their communities.”
Neil Fachie, British Paralympic, says this presents a moral dilemma for the athletes.
He stated: “We’re fairly young, fit people who would not be considered high risk for Covid. And the last thing you want to do is take a vaccine away from someone who needs it far more.”
“It’s not a great place to be. Should we get offered the vaccine then I imagine I would take it, but there’s definitely a question mark of am I really deserving or not?”
Given the current circumstances, many British high‑profile Olympic figures call for the Tokyo Games to be cancelled.
Sir Matthew Pinsent, four‑time Olympic gold medallist rower, says it would be ‘ludicrous’ to proceed with the Tokyo Games this summer.
He stated: “It’s exactly the same situation as a year ago and without clear leadership and planning, the IOC (again) will drag this generation around again.”
“The idea of Olympic athletes/officials/delegations getting vaccine priority is antithetical.”
“My own view is that the summer Olympic queue should be asked to shift. Tokyo given the option of delaying until 2024, Paris move to 28 and LA 32. The athletes lose an Olympics but that’s looking likelier by the day.”
Dame Sarah Storey, an owner of 14 Paralympic gold medals, says the IOC needs to make a decision soon.
She told Sky Sport News: “How many nations need to be present for it to be considered viable because that’s really important.”
“It’s a global event for a very good reason. It’s celebrating sport across every single nation, every single continent. Someone needs to decide (what a global event is).”
“If the developing nations aren’t able to access the vaccine then that seems incredibly unfair.”
“So I think those questions have to be answered not least for the sanity of athletes who are hoping that it does go ahead but also for budgets and things like that.”
About 80 per cent of people in Japan think this year’s Tokyo Olympics should be cancelled or delayed due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus, a recent survey by Kyodo News shows.
According to the poll, 35 per cent want the games to be cancelled and 45 per cent are in favour of delaying the Games once again.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games which were scheduled to start in July 2020, were postponed due to Covid‑19 fears, and are now to start on July 23, 2021.
Feature image: CGTN