Sports event

Reviews | A sporting event shouldn’t be a super spreader. Cancel the Olympic Games.

Japanese public health experts are also united in opposing the Games. Haruo Ozaki, President of the Tokyo Medical Association, said: “It is extremely difficult to host the Games without increasing infections, both inside and outside Japan. Kentaro Iwata, infectious disease specialist at Kobe University Hospital, was more brutal: “How the hell can you talk about a sporting event bringing together so many spectators, staff, volunteers, nurses and doctors? Who could benefit from the Games in this situation?

The response of the intermediaries of the Olympic power? Theater of platitudes and hygiene.

“The Japanese people have shown perseverance throughout their history, and it is only thanks to this ability of the Japanese people to overcome adversity that these Olympic Games under these very difficult circumstances are possible,” said the President of the IOC. said in a press release. The 78,000 Olympic volunteers would be given a handful of cloth masks, disinfectant and social distancing slogans.

Last month, Olympic organizers released guidelines designed to mitigate the dangers of Covid-19. All participants must register two negative tests before leaving for Japan and will be tested daily upon arrival. They are encouraged to refrain from using public transport and order take-out meals rather than dining out. But athletes don’t have to self-quarantine, nor do they need to be vaccinated. Foreign spectators are not allowed to attend; nonetheless, tens of thousands of people will enter Japan for the Games.

In theory, the IOC, local Olympic organizers and the Japanese government – which has spent billions of public funds to organize the Games – consult each other on decisions such as cancellation and postponement. Corn an addendum the Olympic Host City Contract states that the IOC is ultimately responsible for decisions when it comes to making “a significant change in the overall reach of the Games”.

The IOC has often trumpets its “athletes first” approach, insisting that the contribution of Olympians is key to the decision-making process for Tokyo 2020. But high-level athletes, including the phenomenon of Japanese tennis Naomi Osaka, wonder aloud if the Games should continue. Tokyo 2020’s newest “game guide” for athletes and officials probably can’t ease athlete stress; it states that “despite all the care taken, the risks and impacts may not be completely eliminated, and you therefore agree to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games at your own risk”. It sounds more like a Covid-19 waiver than “athletes first”.

Olympic officials often claim that the Games are more than sport. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that some things – camaraderie, family, friends, public health – matter more than money. The IOC took a long time to realize this, but there is still time to do the right thing.

The IOC oversees the most widespread and least responsible sports infrastructure in the world. The group seems to have fallen under the spell of their own congenital impunity. Going forward with the Olympics risks drinking poison to quench our thirst for sport. The possibility of a full-scale disaster is not worth it for an optional sports show. It’s time to cancel the Tokyo Olympics.

Jules Boykoff (@JulesBoykoff) is professor of political science at the University of the Pacific and author of “NOlympians” and “Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics”.

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