While Japan is experiencing its third and worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympic Games fans and athletes can remain hopeful. The IOC (International Olympic Committee), the IPC (International Paralympic Committee), Tokyo 2020 and the Tokyo metropolitan government of Japan agreed on new dates for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in 2021. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be inaugurated on the 23rd of July and will continue until the 8th of August 2021.
According to the Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the International Olympic Committee and the organizers of the Games are working on a protocol to guarantee the celebration of the Olympic event. The authorities have organized a plan based on allowing athletes to enter the Olympic village five days before they start competing. In addition, they must leave the facility within 48 hours after their event has ended. This way, the number of people who will be in the Olympic Village during the games is reduced. Consequently, the number of attendees at the opening and closing ceremonies is reduced while safety against the virus increases.
For athletes and staff, there will be temperature controls in all common areas. Moreover, PCR tests will be performed to all members of the Olympic delegations every three or five days. Given the current scenario in which the speed of arrival of these treatments to all countries has been reduced, the IOC will not ask for vaccines as a requirement before the competition.
On the other hand, it is not yet known if the events will be held with an audience in the stands (and, consequently, protocols or restrictions have not yet been established for tourists and all those fans who are eagerly awaiting their start), but what is sure is that the Olympic safety climate will be different: masks, safety distance and coldness in stadiums. The latest polls conducted in Japan speak of a great disappointment among the public.
Rintaro Tanigarra, a soccer player at Snow College, said that “It is not necessary to hold them (the Olympic Games) because they can be enjoyed through television. Potential damage to the population must be avoided”. Almost a million tickets have already been returned in Japan and most of the population chooses to postpone the Games again or directly cancel them, seeing the enormous cost it will have for the country and how little it will generate during the event. Likewise, Kenshin Uneo, former Vissel Kobe player in Japan, indicated that “The celebration of the Olympic Games, although it is a truly important event for the country, can have very serious and far-reaching consequences when it comes to fighting the global pandemic”.
Facing the ongoing fight against COVID-19 as well as social, political and economic pressures, protocols and restrictions may not be enough to successfully complete the XXXII Olympiad this year. The fear of the Games being canceled is still lurking as many rumors continue appearing online.