Around 80% of people in Japan believe the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should be canceled or rescheduled (again) as the pandemic continues to cast a cloud over the event, a Kyodo survey showed Sunday.
The International Olympic Committee said it has “full confidence” in steps being taken by the Tokyo organizers and remains committed to the games going ahead in July. But the IOC’s Dick Pound, previously one of the biggest cheerleaders for the event, hinted last week that the Games could be in doubt.
So is it really a good idea to go ahead with the Olympics? For Japan, the risk might not be worth the reward, Kyodo reports. There are also ethical questions about holding such an event when much of the world is still struggling with the pandemic, and Japan’s relative success in tackling the coronavirus could be upended by the arrival of tens of thousands of people from all over the world.
If organizers are counting on the public to refrain from turning up for unticketed events, like the marathon and race walking, the Hakone ekiden relay over the new year should be a wakeup call. Despite the race organizers urging fans to stay at home, 180,000 spectators still turned up to watch the race, writes Kaz Nagatsuka.
Cities designated to host Olympic athletes for training ahead of the games are scrambling to come up with measures to protect their health, despite not knowing what to expect this summer. Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima has been preparing to welcome Thailand’s national boxing team. “First of all, will the athletes actually come to our city?” asks one official. “How should we prepare our medical system?”
The pandemic has also played havoc with qualifying events. Many Olympic sports are still working to schedule events that will give athletes a fair shake at a place in the postponed games, Aaron Bauer reports. For a few sports, the whole qualifying process had to be rejigged to meet the delayed timeline and optimize athlete safety.