FOR THE WEEK OF APR 19, 2021
Covid safety concerns may delay or cancel Summer Olympics in Japan
Share a fact or quote from an update on this topic or athletes’ reactions.
Summarize foreign news about a different subject.
Find local sports coverage that shows a Covid-related change.
Summer Olympic organizers and leaders of the host country, Japan, face the same question as last year: Can a huge international event be held safely amid a pandemic? The 2020 answer obviously was "no," so the games held every four years were postponed until this July 23-Aug. 8. But Covid remains a global risk and Japan has a worsening virus outbreak. "There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved," the secretary-general of the country's Liberal Democratic Party said last week. "If it seems impossible, it needs to be stopped decisively." That comment by a key ally of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is the ruling party's first public admission that cancellation or postponement of the world’s biggest sporting event is under serious review. There was no immediate reaction from the International Olympic Committee, which has insisted the Tokyo games would go ahead in a "safe and secure" manner.
Japan earlier banned foreign spectators and plans to decide in May about limiting or prohibiting domestic ticket-buyers. Organizers have described plans to keep tabs on the health and movements of more than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from about 200 countries, plus coaches and media. But a slow vaccination rollout, which Japan started in late February, means that many residents probably won't be inoculated by the opening ceremony July 23. The country recorded more than 4,000 new coronavirus infections one day last week, its highest total since late January.
A recent poll showed that only 24 percent of Japanese people think the games should go ahead this summer. Nearly 40 percent said they should be cancelled and 33 percent called for another postponement. Scrapping the event would be a huge disappointment for athletes, especially those who might losing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to compete after years of intense training.
Japanese official says: "If the Olympics are going to be the factor causing covid to spread extensively, then what are we holding the Games for?" – Toshihiro Nikai, Liberal Democratic Party secretary-general
Japanese athlete says: "Stop thinking about the athletes and sports. Think about the people supporting them. Society has to come first!" -- Yuko Arimori, marathon runner who won Olympic medals in 1992 and 1996
Sports columnist says: "The Tokyo Games could end up being a three-week superspreader event that leads to death and illness across Japan and far beyond." – Kurt Streeter, The New York Times
Front Page Talking Points Archive