Tokyo Olympics must move on | Coronavirus pandemic
Although a year has passed, the “2020” Tokyo Olympic Games is finally approaching, and there are less than two months before the opening ceremony.
Driven by a state of emergency in most parts of Japan (including the capital Tokyo) due to COVID-19, the Olympics has never been so uncertain or unpopular locally. Opinion polls show that 80% of Tokyo’s population opposes the Olympics.
So far, the Japanese government led by the new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has resisted the pressure to cancel. But does Suga have the right to gamble on Japan’s health through sports events?
The Olympic Games is the most important global event that a country hopes to host. Hopeful countries will roll out the red carpet and ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for help in order to become the host city. The winners were “granted” with an obligation to spend billions of citizens’ taxpayer cash to build the necessary infrastructure to host 339 of the 33 sporting events, including brand new stadiums, new roads and Thousands of residences in the athlete village.
Ministers usually justify this huge cost by exaggerating the advantages of improving the image of their country. Billions of people watch the game on TV and millions of tourists flock to the host city to promote economic development. Bringing together world leaders, establishing strategic relationships and reaching a strike, will further gain prestige. The Olympics can also be a catalyst for new infrastructure, which will bring jobs and investment. If done correctly, the Olympics can provide better services to local citizens in the coming decades.
However, COVID has raised the stakes for hosting the Olympics to unprecedented levels. Japan has paid a high price for this event. The cost has surged from the initial 7.3 billion US dollars to possibly more than 26 billion US dollars. This is the most expensive Summer Olympics in history.
Just because the Olympic Games were delayed for one year, it cost 2.8 billion U.S. dollars, and the other billions of dollars were spent on new security agreements, and the wages of thousands of employees were maintained for one year, and apartments could not be sold in the athlete’s village. There are 5,632 private residences in the village. The flight restrictions also mean that expected tourism revenues have fallen. The Japanese people will expect all these investments to be rewarded.
Of course, the biggest bet is on the health of the country. Japan is fighting a surge in COVID-19 cases, and residents question the wisdom of bringing 15,000 athletes and their entourage from 200 countries into the country in an era of increasing contagion. Japan is the country with the largest elderly population in the world. One third of the Japanese population over 65 are Japanese. Given its deadline for the elderly, this makes COVID-19 a particular threat. If the Olympics lead to more blockades, there may be further economic losses. If the amount of vaccination in Japan reaches the level of, for example, Israel or the United Kingdom, Tokyo residents may feel more comfortable, but so far, less than 5% of Japanese people have undergone a stabbing operation.
The media has been speculating whether the Olympics will continue, which must be corrosive to the organizers of the event, and the resignation of the head of the Tokyo Olympics, Mori Yoshiro, over his offensive remarks about women will not help. With the increase in costs and COVID-19 cases, the idea of ??unplugging may flash through the mind of Prime Minister Suga. Will the surge of the virus after the Olympics surely be fatal to his government?
However, the Japanese government has the right to refuse to cancel the incident. The trend against the pandemic is changing, and the promotion of vaccines continues at a certain speed around the world. As a technologically advanced country, Japan is fully capable of demonstrating its innovation and imagination, and can manage agreements through rapid tests, vaccines, tracking applications, and when necessary, through virtual audiences. There is also no plan B. The government has ruled out any further delays, and the cancellation of the contract will mean more costs through the interruption of the contract with the broadcaster.
After 18 months of unremitting struggle with a common enemy, we need the Olympics more than ever. After years of training, athletes often fight extreme adversity. They echo the stories of billions of people around the world who also face life-changing challenges. Abandoning the Olympics will be a painful symbol of failure.
Japan will face upside. At the beginning of the 2012 London Olympics, the skeptical British public was frustrated because people were dissatisfied with the cost of the economic downturn and the low attendance at the event, but they were quickly impressed by the permanent memory of national pride Replaced because they held the greatest performance on earth. Japan will soon feel this too, injecting a new sense of optimism and national honor, which will leave a positive legacy, including encouraging younger generations to engage in this sport.
If the Olympics are slightly different, there is no reason why advanced countries like Japan cannot host an excellent Olympics. It may even stimulate certain innovations and reforms in the Olympics, and sometimes it may seem a bit formulaic. The hard journey will make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics even sweeter, because we have witnessed humans working together in various situations. Isn’t this all the content of the Olympics?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.