I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that the 2021 Olympic games feels like a bit of a shitshow. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, with the more contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus quickly becoming the dominant strain stateside. As more and more Olympic participants contract the virus, the head of the Olympic planning committee has said a late cancellation of the games is possible.
According to Bleacher Report, Olympic organizers confirmed on Tuesday that 71 people approved to either work or compete in the games have tested positive for COVID-19 this month. Over the weekend, 17-year-old tennis phenom Coco Gauff announced she would be withdrawing from the Olympics after contracting the virus and an unidentified alternate member of the American gymnastics team is in quarantine for the same reason. Toshiro Muto, head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, told reporters during a press conference that a late cancellation of the Olympic games isn’t off the table.
“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto said. “We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”
I’m personally baffled as to why the games haven’t been canceled already. The people of Japan have made it abundantly clear they aren’t on board with the games continuing. In May, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association released a statement calling for the cancellation of the Olympics because Tokyo hospitals were already at their limit due to a spike in COVID cases.
“We strongly request that the authorities convince the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that holding the Olympics is difficult and obtain its decision to cancel the Games,” the statement read.
Last month, 10,000 volunteers who intended to help with the Olympics quit due to concerns over the virus. Only 34 percent of the Japanese population is vaccinated due to a delayed rollout, and Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency that runs from July 12 to Aug. 22.
Considering the event will be held without fans this year, the financial boon provided by tourism isn’t even really there anymore. So it truly begs the question: why go on with an event that no one wants to happen, has no real benefit for the hosting country, and puts its participants at risk? I’m going to assume the answer, as usual, is money.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic games are, as of now, scheduled to start Friday through Aug. 8.