With Japan having the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, the Tokyo Olympics risks being canceled if it cannot be cleared of the Corona Virus before the event.
As of February 24, 2020, there has been a listed 147 confirmed cases with more than 600 more reported on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which is currently anchored at Yokohama Port.
According to Dick Pound of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), they have a clear two to three months to decide as to whether or not the Olympics will push through.
“In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?’” Pound said. For him, the fate of the games would be out of IOC’s hand as it would still rely on the World Health Organization before it makes any move.
For him, cancellation of the event would be the only option if in case they couldn’t be 100% sure of the safety of the athletes. Unfortunately for the athletes, postponing it or moving it will not be an option. Having it in another city is also highly unlikely as there are only a few places in the world (if not virtually impossible) that could gather up the resources to host an event of this magnitude in just a short amount of time. Also, having various events in multiple places around the world would turn it into a world championship instead of an Olympic-level event.
As the games draw near, he said, “a lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels. The media folks will be in there building their studios.” Pound also reiterated that you can’t just postpone the Olympics to a later month as you’d have to consider competitive seasons of the athletes as well as television seasons.
As for the possibility of delaying it for a year, Pound said that Japan has already reported having spent $12.6 billion for the games and even if they concur to hold on for an extra year, scheduling would also be a problem as it would have to fit in the international sports schedule.
He also cast doubt on the possibility of a one-year delay. Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics, although a national audit board says the country is spending twice that much.
Even with four confirmed deaths in Japan, Pound still encouraged the athletes to keep on training. ”As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo,” Pound said. “All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”
As for having it in another country, London was brought up by its Mayoral Candidate, Shaun Bailey but was put off my Tokyo’s Yuriko Koike as an offer to use the virus as an attempt for political gain.
Since 1896, the Olympics has only been canceled during wartime. Incidentally, the event pushed through last 2016 in Brazil even with the threat of the Zika virus outbreak.
11,000 athletes are expected for the Olympics which is set to open on July 24, 2020 with another 4,400 bound for the Paralympics, this time on August 25, 2020.