The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are officially underway. But in light of the ongoing pandemic, are they really worth it?
We already know that global sporting events can successfully take place in the midst of a pandemic. Take this year’s Formula One season for example, which has moved around the world with relative ease.
Similarly, 15,000 Britons recently attended the Men’s 2021 Wimbledon Final, and up to 60,000 attended the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium.
In each of these instances, authorities have backed the economic argument—giving fans some much-needed sports action.
Japan has put strict coronavirus measures in place to reduce exposure to Covid-19. This comes despite the nation recording over 850,000 cases, and a devastating 15,000 deaths.
However, Japan is a strong vaccination nation. Around 23 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) says the Games will have “well above” 80 percent of Olympic and Paralympic village residents vaccinated. In addition, between 70 and 80 percent of the media will be vaccinated.
Spectators are banned from this year’s Olympics. All athletes and delegates must be tested before departure and on arrival.
Do people even want the Game to go ahead?
There has been strong opposition to the Olympics taking place. In fact, a local newspaper suggests 80 percent of Japanese people want the Games postponed or cancelled entirely.
Similarly, athletes have also expressed concerns over the Games. Tennis’ World Number 2, Naomi Osaka believes there should be a wider discussion about whether the Games proceed.
“If it’s putting people at risk, and if it’s making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion.”Naomi osaka
But these aren’t the first Olympics to experience controversy. In fact, there seems to be controversy surrounding most Olympics before they even begin.
Kirsten Holmes from Curtin University says the Tokyo Olympics are no different.
“In previous Games like Athens or Rio, there was a lot of negative press about whether the athlete’s village will be ready on time and the displacement of local people.
“Yet when the events themselves were held, they were very successful. They painted the host city in a positive light on the global stage.”
How much will the Tokyo Games cost?
The already-delayed Tokyo Games are expected to exceed USD $26 billion.
The IOC has a strict agreement with Japanese organisers. In fact, the IOC are the only body that are able to cancel the Games. If Tokyo cancels, they have to foot the bill.
The IOC expects to make 70 percent of its cut from broadcast rights, and an additional 18 percent from sponsorship opportunities.
But remember, the Olympics are funded by taxpayers. So, it might be worth giving the locals a thought—especially because international tourism is off the cards.
Health vs. economics
In light of the ongoing pandemic, Tokyo is currently under strict state of emergency conditions. This means there will be no bars, restaurants, or karaoke venues operating if they serve alcohol.
Tokyo residents are expected stay at home and watch the games on the couch.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also chimed in.
“The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” he says.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
But he also also says “zero cases” may not be a true indicator of success, especially given Tokyo’s increasing Covid-19 numbers.
The Olympic cluster had already grown to over 80 on Wednesday this week, with even more athletes testing positive and unable to travel.
If teammates are listed ‘close contacts’, they can continue training under strict protocols.
But are these rules and protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus? Or are they measures to ensure the Games can proceed? I’m not sure if they are mutually exclusive, and neither does the WHO Director-General.
“The pandemic is a test and the world is failing.”Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Mr Adhanom Ghebreyesu predicts more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths before the Olympic flame goes out on 8 August.
With such strong opposition and rising case numbers, nations have a simple choice: straighten up the health response, or cash in.
Tokyo 2020 might be one of the most successful Olympics of the modern era. As organisers weigh up the costs and hope the rewards outweigh the risk.
We will just have to wait and see. Nevertheless, I suspect the Games might be a welcome relief for locked down communities, and the global sporting community.
Team USA to require vaccination for 2022 Winter Olympians
Staff and athletes will be required to be fully vaccinated before the Beijing Winter Olympics, according to a policy announced by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced the policy on Wednesday.
The USOPC won’t consider unvaccinated athletes for the Beijing games, who will need to provide proof of vaccination by December 1st. The Winter Olympics will begin on the 4th of February next year.
The Associated Press obtained the letter CEO Sarah Hirshland sent to athletes and staff detailing the decision to implement the policy for future Olympic and Paralympic Games, starting with the 2022 Tokyo Winter Olympic Games.
“Effective Nov. 1, 2021, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee will require all USOPC staff, athletes and those utilizing USOPC facilities – including the training centers – to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” Hirshland wrote.
“This requirement will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Athletes will be given the opportunity to apply for an exemption, and Hirshland hopes most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in time for the Games.
“The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,” Hirshland wrote.
“This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and service to athletes.”
The USOPC also revealed data on vaccination rates at the Tokyo Olympics via their website, with 83% of Team USA, and 86% of international athletes at the Olympic Village being fully vaccinated.
Athletes previously weren’t required to be vaccinated by the International Olympic Committee to attend the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, although they encouraged athletes to get vaccinated.
-by Parker McKenzie
UEFA shuts down FIFA proposal
UEFA has urged FIFA to stop pushing its plan for a two-year World Cup and instead to engage in “genuine consultation” about reform of the international match calendar
FIFA is currently conducting a feasibility study into holding the tournament on a biennial basis.
The proposal would signify a switch from the current four-yearly cycle. But FIFA has made no secret of its desire to switch to such a format.
It follows Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s head of Global Football Development, says he was “100 percent convinced” to the switch.
Major League Baseball has told a team to stop testing for Coronavirus
A Boston Redsox outfielder said that MLB told his team struggling with COVID-19 to treat symptoms, instead of testing
The Boston Redsox have nine players who have tested positive with coronavirus.
When questioned about the situation on WEEI’s Merloni & Fauria show, Refroe said the league had instructed the team to stop testing for the virus.
“MLB basically told us to stop the testing and just treat the symptoms,” Renfroe said.
“We’re like ‘No. We’re gonna figure out what’s going on and try to keep this thing under control.'”
When the bewildered host asked Renfroe to confirm if Major League Baseball had asked the team to stop testing, he confirmed “yes”.
Major League Baseball quickly released a statement to Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe saying Renfroe’s claim was incorrect.
“He (Renfroe) is completely wrong and inaccurate.” the statement said.
The Red Sox are currently missing shortstop Xander Bogart, starters Nick Pivetta and Martin Perez, outfielder Jarren Duran, and closer Matt Barnes because of the outbreak.
The Redsox have released a statement saying they have followed league COVID restrictions, and will continue to test. The team is currently under the 85% vaccinated threshold to ease restrictions imposed by the league.
-By Parker McKenzie
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