According to a report in the Times of London, the Japanese government has concluded that, due to issues surrounding the pandemic, the country will be unable to host the Olympic Games later this summer.
The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus, and the focus is now on securing the Games for the city in the next available year, 2032 https://t.co/bsuB9wMt30
— The Times (@thetimes) January 21, 2021
But UPI reports that both the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are denying the report.
“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be canceled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue,” the government said in a statement Friday.
“All parties involved are working together to prepare for a successful Games this summer.”
The Japanese government added that it will implement “all possible countermeasures” to make the Games as safe as possible in the COVID-19 era.
The cost of the Olympics had already skyrocketed to over $15.7 billion after the games were canceled in 2020 and moved to 2021. Would Japan even risk hinting they would cancel the games when so much is on the line?
Japan declared a state of emergency last week as positive tests for the coronavirus shot back up. All major cities have gone back to being under lockdown. But preparations for the games continue. Is this wishful thinking—or worse, denying reality?
Perhaps they’re looking at the logistics and have determined it’s not worth it. Even a scaled-back Olympic Games would be a nightmare. How can you possibly keep 15,000 athletes safe when the definition of most sports involves being in close, physical proximity to your opponent? You’d need an army to disinfect everything every day. Masks and tests would be needed in the hundreds of thousands. It’s not just athletes at risk. Judges, referees, umpires, coaches, IOC officials, not to mention spectators — it would be impossible.
Perhaps because of that, no one in the Japanese government has come out and said the games should be canceled. But we’re less than 7 months from the opening ceremonies and they apparently can’t figure out how to do it.
Japan has spent $25 billion on preparations for the competition, though polls have shown 80 percent of Japanese people are against it going on as planned, according to the report.
Despite public posturing from both the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government saying the games can happen, a winter wave of coronavirus cases in Japan has made that goal far more difficult, according to The Times.
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” a senior member of the ruling coalition said. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Public health officials in Japan believe the government is in denial.
The government is “pushing the games forward without really understanding the critical situation our health care system is in,” argues Dr. Jin Kuramochi, who runs a clinic outside Tokyo. “They’re not beating the virus, and they are not ready for the Olympics,” he warns.
The official façade of confidence has been showing cracks, following expressions of doubt from political and sports heavyweights.
Senior IOC member Dick Pound recently said he “can’t be certain” about the games “because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus.”
The COVID vaccine will not save the games. The worldwide rollout of the vaccine has been too slow for it to make a difference. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga claimed that the Olympics would be “proof that humanity defeated the coronavirus.”
He might want to rethink that statement.