[imagesource: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images]
On Friday, July 23, the Tokyo Olympics will begin.
They’re still going by the 2020 Olympics, too, much like Euro 2020, which kicks off tomorrow, before you get confused.
Usually, in the lead-up to the Summer Games, all the talk is about which athletes are likely to grab gold, and which sports are debuting, but this year, things are very different.
Those critical of Tokyo hosting the games, in the midst of a global pandemic, have been very outspoken, and a recent poll showed a full 83% of the Japanese public support the Olympics being cancelled.
Spokesman Mark Adams said organisers are listening, but “won’t be guided by public opinion,” with the official line being that cancelling the event at this late stage would be unduly cruel on athletes who have spent years preparing.
That is true, but as The Guardian reports, there are also other forces at work:
…in explaining their motives for persevering in the face of opposition from the Japanese public, health experts and even a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee, IOC [ International Olympic Committee] officials have avoided any mention of the irrepressible force driving the Games towards their 23 July opening date.
The IOC and organisers stand to lose billions of dollars if Tokyo 2020 falls victim to the coronavirus for a second time. Japan has officially spent $15.4bn on the Olympics, although government audits suggest the real figure is much higher. All but $6.7bn has come from Japanese taxpayers.
A study conducted by an economist at Nomura Research Institute found that all in all, Japanese organisers would incur costs of around $16 billion if they cancelled.
Only the IOC has the authority to cancel the Games, and thus Japan would be in breach of contract if it refused to host.
In 2013, Tokyo signed a host city contract with the IOC, and could thus be sued for any potential losses, including claims by broadcasters who have paid huge sums of money for the rights to air the Games:
The prospects of an IOC-led cancellation are practically nil. The organisation depends on selling broadcasting rights for almost 75% of its income, with another 18% coming from 15 top sponsors.
According to one estimate, the IOC could lose about $3.5-$4bn in broadcast revenue if the Tokyo Games were called off.
It also seems unlikely that a push to cancel will come from the Japanese government, with prime minister Yoshihide Suga believing that the hosting of a “trouble-free Olympics” will boost his chances of party reelection in September.
All of the financial stuff aside, there’s also the small matter of how the 11 500 or so athletes will have to adjust to competing in the time of COVID-19.
As tired as we are of the word “unprecedented” (South Africa is on day 441 of living under some form of lockdown), this would be a Games like never before.
Some of the rules athletes must adhere to via NPR:
Athletes are to stay two meters — or about six-and-a-half feet — apart from others, except for situations like being on the playing field. Physical interactions including hugs, handshakes and high-fives are discouraged, in a blow to classic sporting gestures.
At meal times, athletes are to keep two meters away from others – or eat by themselves.
I’m not sure Usain Bolt would cope very well with the above.
They must also prepare for serious cabin fever:
Playing a tourist while in Japan — or doing much of anything besides preparing and competing — is not permitted for athletes.
The playbook says athletes may only leave their accommodation to go to official Games venues and limited additional locations, as defined by the list of permitted destinations.
Athletes will also have to remain masked at all times, unless they’re eating, drinking, sleeping, training, or competing, and move around using designated Olympic vehicles.
As has become customary, the IOC will also hand out condoms to athletes upon arrival (roughly 160 000, or close to 14 per athlete), although “the intent and goal is not for athletes to use the condoms at the Olympic Village but to help with awareness by taking them back to their own countries.”
I’m sure they would rather take home a medal, but I guess a handful of condoms will have to do for most.
[imagesource: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post] The town of Lonaconing, in Maryland, ...
[imagesource:here] On June 30, 2021, South Africans can wave the Section 12J tax incent...
[imagesource: The Late Late Show with James Corden/Youtube] It has been close to a mont...
[imagesource: Saving The Wild] A video from the parking lot of a Pick n Pay shopping co...
[imagesource: BBC] Visit The Telegraph's home page at any given time, and you're guaran...