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Tokyo Olympics still threatened by Covid-19 100 days out



PHOTO: Can the Olympics take place during Covid-19?

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are 100 days away, but with Covid-19 surges, there are still many hurdles to jump. With Coronavirus infections on the rise in many places around the world, and even in Japan, there are debates on if the Olympics can carry on – or even if they should. Japan has seen outbreaks forcing them to retighten recently loosened Covid-19 restrictions. Olympic officials are still optimistic, focusing not on whether or not to have the games, but instead on how to effectively and safely manage a Covid-19 version of the Olympic Games. Procedures have already changed, with foreign spectators being disallowed from attending and increased infections in Tokyo and around Japan may lead to issues with even domestic travellers in the stands for events. A minimalized version of the Olympic torch relay is underway, setting off with a ceremony in Fukushima that did not allow spectators. When the flame passes through Osaka, it will be routed through a park and kept off public roads.

Vaccination may be a helpful path in ensuring the Tokyo Olympics safety. Some national teams have already received jabs and more are expected to in advance of the Games. Vaccination won’t be required for athletes, but the International Olympic Committee will have one of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccines available and encouraged for anyone unvaccinated, especially athletes from countries that may not have access to jabs. Athletes for the most part seem more eager to get back to the spotlight of global competition than they are scared of the Coronavirus.

The IOC may be encouraged by the ongoing Japanese sporting events being held despite Covid-19 in recent months. At these events, fans have become accustomed to following virus safety procedures, even adhering to a ban on cheering. Athletes will be regularly tested with movement limited to Olympic Villiage, but tens of thousands of participants will be allowed to bypass quarantine when entering Japan internationally.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have created a playbook of restrictions and safety measures to quell fears of a public that is still mostly not in favour of the risks of holding the Olympics this summer. In polls, Japanese prefer a postponement of cancellation of the Olympic Games – though an offer from Florida to host didn’t garner much interest – but 27% did say they would like to see the event take place this summer, up from 11% in January. Some wonder, with the subdued atmosphere under strict regulation, if there will even be high demand for tickets to Olympic events. But organisers, citing a history of pre-Olympics criticism for past Games, believe that once the opening ceremony is underway July 23rd, public sentiment will come around and people will be inspired as they always are, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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