With various events, sporting and others, being cancelled in regions affected by the coronavirus, the big thought in many people’s minds has been – “what will happen with the Tokyo Olympics?” Yesterday, a long-serving Olympic committee official addressed this matter.
What Will Happen with the Tokyo Olympics and When Will It Be Decided?
Serving since 1978 on the Olympic Committee makes former swimmer Dick Pound the longest serving member of the committee. In an interview with the AP yesterday, he said the following about the Tokyo Olympics:
“In and around that time [speaking of the end of May], 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?’” he said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
This suggestion would indicate that Japan will have to have the virus under control enough by that time to show that the Olympics could go on as planned without causing any amount of significant risk of exposure to the virus.
There are many things that are still unknown about the coronavirus, COVID-19, and how it will behave. For example, the SARS virus that hit many places hard many years ago was hindered by the heat of summer. Many are hoping it could be the same with COVID-19 but there is not enough information about the virus yet to know if that would be the case.
“No Plan B”
According to the Olympic Committee earlier this month, they don’t have a Plan B for the Tokyo Olympics – meaning what would happen if it could not go on as planned. The committee member said in the interview yesterday that there would likely be a cancellation instead of other options thrown about like delaying the games or splitting them up to take part in various countries by events.
The Tokyo Olympics will cost Japan billions of dollars – some putting the final estimate at $26 billion, or 3 times more than originally planned. Hotels have been built, venues erected, and many more things put in place for this global event. Given how incredibly organized things are in Japan, this could be one of the better organized Olympic games in a long time.
So, they will certainly not want to see them cancelled! However, even if they go on, the Tokyo Olympics may not be the world games that they were originally envisioned when it was given to Tokyo. For example, already we know that Russia is not allowed to send a team due to doping violations. In addition, Japan could ban athletes from some countries that have an intense outbreak of the virus. At this time, this could mean China could not field a team as well.
There may be other athletes that may choose to not compete if the virus is not under control by the time of the Olympics. But, this has happened in the past in some events due to other circumstances. For example, the marathon world record holder at the time, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, pulled out of the Beijing games due to concerns about his health with the pollution amounts in Beijing.