Covid delays Tokyo Games

Postponement of the Olympics was a foregone conclusion

Covid delays Tokyo Games

The Olympic Games, the greatest show in the world of sports, have been put off. Tokyo, the city that was scheduled to host this festival of youth in July-August this year, has witnessed three Covid-related deaths so far, but across Japan, the number of fatalities stands at over 40. More than 800 people are currently infected in the country — and Japan is relatively unscathed. The number of confirmed cases worldwide passed 3.9 lakh on Tuesday; about 17,000 people have died. The tragedy continues to unfold — experts believe that the situation will worsen in the coming weeks.

In the face of this disaster, Japan asked for a one-year postponement of the Olympics. According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the International Olympic Committee acceded to the request. Many athletes had been voicing their concerns; for one, athletes across the world were unable to train due to the fear of getting infected; two, had the Games been held on schedule, the athletes would have been exposed to great dangers in Tokyo because social distancing is impossible in sport. True, most athletes are young, fit and have good immunity against disease, but thousands of players taking back the virus to their home countries would have multiplied the disaster. Sports associations in various countries added their voice to the dissent, and Canada and Australia bluntly said that they would not participate in the Olympics if the event was not postponed to 2021.

As is often the case, the biggest fear was the loss of money — Japan had pumped in over $12 billion into the project. At least 60 sponsors are involved. The Olympics have become such a massive financial machinery that investors have started prioritising capital over sport and, indeed, life. For many people, sport is a matter of life and death — in a time of disaster, it becomes evident that this is merely rhetoric. Sport is not more important than life. And this is no time for sport.

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