Tokyo Olympics: Full Speed Ahead?

Posted by on Jul 1, 2021 in Current Events

After cancelling the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games last year, the event’s organizers are ready to go forward with in-person competition in Japan this year. The Games will take place from Friday, July 23, 2021, until Sunday, August 8, 2021. But is it too soon to hold such a large international event? Here, btw takes a closer look at the new rules and regulations, as well some of the potential risks, of a “normal” Olympic Games.

Sport. Sprinter leaving starting blocks on the running track. ; Shutterstock ID 422100022; PO: 19Jan-Intl (UK); Job: Intl 2
What will the Tokyo Olympics look like this summer? Credit: Rocksweeper/Shutterstock

What Will It Look Like?

Though the Tokyo Olympics will take place in person, it will not look quite the way it was originally planned. Attendance at each venue will be limited to 10,000 people, or 50 percent of the venue’s capacity. Back in February 2021, the organizers of the event outlined other safety procedures in a 32-page “playbook.” Protective measures include:

  • requiring all athletes and staff to be vaccinated and to test negative for COVID-19;
  • mandatory temperature checks at all venues;
  • nonverbal support for athletes, such as clapping, to avoid spreading droplets; and
  • requiring anyone coming into the country to be quarantined for fourteen days.

Is It Safe?

Due to rising vaccination numbers, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has now lifted the state of emergency and other restrictions in Tokyo and other regions. So far, at least 31 million Japanese residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19, with the number rising by about a million people per day. Japan is now allowing people under 65 to receive the vaccine. It has opened hundreds of mass vaccination centers around the country.

Health experts also point out that Japan had a much lower rate of infections and deaths than the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Russia, or India did, even at the height of the pandemic.

Safe . . . Or Sorry?

However, many critics and government advisers are against the decision. Though the vaccination numbers in Japan are rising, as of June 28, 2021, only 8 percent of the population had received both shots of the vaccine. While the government is rushing to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the Olympics, the rollout is slow because all vaccine doses must be imported. Also, under Japanese law, only doctors and nurses are allowed to give injections. Japan is still reporting about 400 new COVID-19 cases per day.

Most people living in Japan are concerned about the safety of holding an in-person Olympics in their country. According to a nationwide survey:

  •  86 percent of Japanese residents are afraid that the event will cause a rebound in coronavirus cases
  • 40.3 percent believe that the Summer Games should be held without spectators,
  • 30.8 percent believe that they should be cancelled altogether.

And it isn’t just spectators who could unknowingly spread COVID-19. Last weekend, an Olympic athlete who arrived in Japan from Uganda tested positive for the virus. He was denied entry into the country and will not be allowed in until he tests negative. For many, this incident was further evidence that an in-person Olympics isn’t a good idea.

What Do You Think? Based on what you’ve read here and heard in the news, should the Tokyo Olympic Games take place in person? Why or why not?