Facing the impending risk of cancellation, the novel coronavirus outbreak may prove too dangerous for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Set to take place at the New National Stadium in Japan from 24th July to 9th August, the Olympics is regarded as one of the world’s leading international sporting events, with 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations competing in both summer and winter categories.
Reeling in millions of visitors each cycle, the Olympics present the perfect breeding ground for the spread of disease, whilst increasing risk of cross-contamination. Despite the potential, and rather questionable economic benefits of boosting trade, foreign investment, travel, and tourism-related spending in host countries, Japan currently ranks fourth on worldometers’ live tracking of the virus, with a total of 161 cases, 3 deaths, and 13 patients in critical condition.
As current dialogue amongst the International Olympic Committee and event organizers revolve heavily around issues of healthcare and safety, Japan remains optimistic, leaving an estimated two to three month window for review open, whilst deciding the fate of the games – which at this point, are unlikely to be postponed.
“All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”
Thus far, the modern Olympics have been cancelled only during times of conflict, such as in 1940 during World War II. Continuing despite past medical outbreak, the scheduled 2016 Rio Games also commenced in Brazil without impediment, in light of the Zika virus.
In a statement by former Canadian swimming champion and the longest-serving International Olympic Committee member, Dick Pound briefly discussed the committee’s billion dollar emergency fund which has been set aside for potential unforeseen circumstances.
Pound further stated, “You just don’t postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics. There’s so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can’t just say, ‘We’ll do it in October’.”
Shooting down suggestions for a ‘split Olympics’, due to time and monetary constraints, as well as, the event’s century old tradition, the ex-Olympian believes a split event will lose traction and result in a series of insignificant “world championships”.