Japan Olympics: It’s next year or never

Is Japan ready to face a second cancelling of the Olympic Games? Undoubtedly, this is a pessimistic scenario, but it’s on the table and needs to be pointed out. A few days ago the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Mr Tedros Ghebreyesus, predicted that it would not be easy for nearly 11.000 athletes from more than 200 nations to compete safely in Tokyo. Let alone the fans.

Is this a safe prediction, nearly 15 months before the opening ceremony of the Games? It’s rather a ringing bell. Ghebreyesus admitted that there’s neither sign of a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic, which would make things much easier, nor a worldwide medicine, which could secure at least that there wouldn’t be so high number of deaths.

It’s true that Japan has so far avoided the high numbers seen in other countries. Some 17,100 cases have been registered and some 800 deaths, in a population about 125 million people. But the pandemic isn’t over at all and nobody knows how many pandemic waves there will be in the following months.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that holding the Games even next year would be a very difficult project, unless the pandemic was contained before they are due to begin on July 23th. However, he didn’t declare what’s going to happen, if his country won’t be able to host the biggest worldwide sporting event. Is he going to ask for a second postponement?

No way. International Olympic Committee’s president Thomas Bach warned by the most official way that if Japan won’t host the 2021 Games, then they would have to be cancelled. It’s not a matter of revenge, but compromise with all major sport world federations.

Bach was really clear: “you can’t forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an organising committee. You can’t every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You can’t have the athletes being in uncertainty”. He said, though, that he’s ready to back the Japanese government in all decisions regarding the safe hosting of the Games next year, including quarantining athletes. But he wouldn’t suffer the Games stripped off their major athletes in various sports.

Just reminding: Tokyo was ready to host the 1940 Olympic Games, but as you all know, the event was cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. In fact, the Games were to begin in September 21, 1940, but even in spring most European countries officially stated that there were about to boycott the Games. Japan went on to host the 1964 summer Olympics and twice the winter Olympics (1972 and 1998).

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