The Tokyo 2021 Olympics are set to begin on July 23rd. However, due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Japanese officials declared a state of emergency. Despite this news, Olympic officials have elected to continue, only this time without fans.
Before Japan declared a state of emergency, the country saw a surge in COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, Japan COVID-19 cases rose to 920, and on Thursday, the country saw an additional 896 cases. As a result, officials reinstated strict procedures in Tokyo to curve the surge in COVID-19. These procedures will begin next week and last through the week of the Olympic games.
Along with the reinstatement of public health measures, some Olympic officials are quarantining. Among the quarantined Olympic officials are International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Tamayo Marukawa, Japan’s minister for Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic games. Additionally, Olympic level one participants will take COVID-19 tests daily.
Concerns About Safety
Despite the communicated safety measures Olympic officials are putting in place, much of the Japanese public believes the Olympics should be canceled altogether. Though foreign fans are prohibited from attending the Olympics, local fans are not. In addition to allowing local fans to gather together, the countries officials have not released safety measures for other sports events. This directly goes against the medical advice given to Olympic and Japanese government officials.
Furthermore, Olympic athletes must sign waivers denouncing the IOC of any responsibility if they are exposed to the Delta variant of COVID-19. This news comes just two days after two Olympic staffers tested positive for COVID-19 after eating across from each other. Many claim the IOC’s waiver requirements are ridiculous considering that many Olympic athletes are ordinary people who have regular jobs and compete in their spare time. In fact, The Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins, the waiver is the IOC’s way of releasing all responsibility in their efforts to make money. She ended her article by stating, “For them, it’s safe, perfectly safe” in reference to the IOC.
Why Are Olympic Officials Ignoring Medical Advice?
Although Jenkins’s claims may seem outrageous, many Japanese local and medical professionals share the same opinion. The IOC makes 75 percent of its revenue from broadcasting rights; if the Olympics are canceled again, the IOC will lose $4 million. On the other hand, according to ESPN, there will be over 11,000 Olympic participants and 4,400 Paralympians. Factoring in the number of coaches, sponsors, and other important people who will be present would leave the IOC liable for tens of thousands of people.
Written by Reginae Echols
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Yahoo! Sports: Japan declares state of emergency, Olympics still on but without fans in Tokyo, by Henry Bushnell
ESPN: Spectators barred from Tokyo Olympics venues amid Japan’s COVID-19 state of emergency
WashingtonPost: Olympic Leaders are making sure the Tokyo Games are safe, by Sally Jenkins – from liability
Featured Image Courtesy of Nicholas Cole’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of eltpics’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License