Home WORLD Tokyo Olympics must continue | Coronavirus pandemic

Tokyo Olympics must continue | Coronavirus pandemic

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Although a year has elapsed, but less than two months before the opening, the “2020” Tokyo Olympic Games finally arrived as scheduled.

The Olympics has never been so uncertain or unpopular locally. This is because most areas of Japan, including the capital Tokyo, are in a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Opinion polls show that 80% of Tokyo’s population opposes the Olympics.

So far, the Japanese government led by the new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has withstood the pressure to cancel. But is Yoshihide Suga right to bet on Japan’s health for a sporting event?

The Olympic Games is the most important global event that a country hopes to host. Future countries will roll out the red carpet to strive for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to become the host city. The winner is “granted” the obligation to spend billions of cash from its citizen taxpayers to build the necessary infrastructure to host 339 events in 33 sports, and own brand new stadiums, new roads and thousands of apartments To accommodate the athletes’ village.

Ministers usually justify this huge cost by praising the advantages of improving the country’s image. Billions of people watch events on TV and millions of tourists flock to host cities to promote economic development. Further prestige comes from bringing world leaders together to establish strategic relationships and close deals. The Olympics can also be a catalyst for new infrastructure, which will bring jobs and investment. If done well, the Olympic Games can leave better services for local residents for them to enjoy in the coming decades.

However, the new crown pneumonia has raised the risk of hosting the Olympics to an unprecedented level. Japan has paid a high price for this event. The cost has surged from the initial budget of 7.3 billion U.S. dollars to possibly more than 26 billion U.S. dollars. This is the most expensive Summer Olympics on record.

The postponement of the Olympic Games for one year alone caused US$2.8 billion in losses, and billions of US dollars were used to formulate new security agreements to maintain the wages of thousands of employees for another year, and it was impossible to sell apartments in the athletes’ village. , Including 5,632 luxury homes, to the private sector. Flight restrictions also mean that expected tourism revenue has plummeted. The Japanese people will look forward to the return of all these investments.

Of course, the biggest bet is the health of the country. Japan is fighting a surge in COVID-19 cases, and residents question whether it is wise to let 15,000 athletes and their entourage from 200 countries enter the country during a time when the variant is becoming more and more contagious. Japan has the largest elderly population in the world, and one-third of Japan’s people are over 65 years old. Given the deadline for COVID-19 for the elderly, this makes it a particular threat. If the Olympics lead to more blockades, it may also incur further economic costs. If Japan’s vaccinations reach the level of Israel or the United Kingdom, Tokyo residents may feel more comfortable, but so far, less than 5% of the Japanese population has been vaccinated once.

The media’s continued speculation on whether the Olympics will continue is certainly corrosive to the organizers, and the Tokyo Olympics director Yoshiro Mori resigned because of his offensive remarks against women, which did not help. With the increase in costs and COVID-19 cases, the idea of ​​unplugging may have flashed in the mind of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Is any surge in the virus after the Olympics surely fatal to his government?

However, the Japanese government is correct to refuse to cancel the event. The tide of the fight against the pandemic is changing, and vaccines continue to be rapidly introduced globally. As a technologically advanced country, Japan is fully capable of demonstrating its innovation and imagination, managing agreements through rapid testing, vaccines, tracking applications, and virtual audiences when necessary. There is also no plan B. The government has ruled out any further delays, and the cancellation will mean more costs by rescinding the contract with the broadcaster.

After 18 months of relentless struggle against our common enemy, we need the Olympics more than ever. After years of training, athletes often face extreme adversity. They echo the billions of personal stories of people around the world who also face life-changing challenges. Abandoning the Olympics will be a painful symbol of failure.

Japan will usher in upside. The skeptical British public was frustrated at the start of the 2012 London Olympics. They complained about the cost and low attendance rate during the economic recession, but they were quickly replaced by lasting memories of national pride as they hosted the most Great show. Japan will soon feel this, injecting a new kind of optimism and a sense of national honor, which will leave a positive legacy, including inspiring their younger generation to engage in a sport.

There is no reason why an advanced country like Japan cannot hold an Olympic Games even if it is slightly different. It may even stimulate some innovations and reforms in the Olympics, which sometimes makes people feel formulaic. The hard journey to get there will make hosting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics even sweeter, because we have witnessed the desperate unity of humanity. Isn’t that the case for the Olympics?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



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