Tokyo Olympics uncertainty

The contentious summer Games which face a majority opposition in the host country are looking likely to go ahead

Photo by Miki Yoshihito for Wikimedia Commons.

— 2 minute read — By Maggie Gannon

The Games that were supposed to be a celebration of Japanese culture and success have now left the majority of the country adamant that they should not go ahead. 

When Tokyo was declared the host city for the 2020 Olympics, a national celebration ensued; this was a city that had not hosted the summer sporting spectacle since 1964 and was eager to put on an exciting show for the rest of the world to see. After recent years of natural disaster including devastating tsunamis and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan had the ultimate opportunity to show that they had rebuilt and recovered from this and celebrate all the great things about their nation.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck early last year, a unanimous decision was made to postpone the games given the complete uncertainty of the world. Since this, reports of landmark stadiums being scrapped and ongoing controversy regarding money sent to IOC board members has added to how many Japanese people feel about the upcoming games. 

Of course, the event attracting professionals anad spectators from the world over, the risk of COVID-19 infections rising is evidently a huge risk. Although many countries have handled the pandemic effectively, and are now beginning successful vaccine rollouts, many are left trailing behind and struggling to control the risks of new variants and lack of resources. 

The potential risk of new variants developing out of the games, and the overwhelming worry of hundreds of thousands of people descending on the city in the summer have left many healthcare workers and civilians feeling anxious. There has been a huge number of protests throughout the country, but the overwhelming feeling is that the games are still very likely to go ahead. The final decision is not in the hands of Tokyo itself, but the International Olympic Committee – and at this point, it would take an unprecedented move to amend scheduling.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has promised that the entire elderly population will be vaccinated by the end of July, but current statistics do not make his ambitions seem any more likely. The huge amount of money lost and the rescheduling that would disrupt the sporting world would cause an enormous amount of disruption, but are the Games really worth the risk of spreading the virus?