East Coast Wine Trail

East Coast Wine Trail
East Coast Wine Trail

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Tokyo Olympics becoming a farce as cash-crazy IOC presses on

The cash-crazy International Olympic Committee is pressing ahead with the Tokyo Olympic Games despite the opposition of most Japanese people - and the continued risk of Covid-19.

Despite constant warnings from health experts, Tokyo Olympics organisers said this week that spectators will be allowed in stadiums and arenas.

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said only domestic spectators will be allowed and each venue will be capped at 50% of its capacity to a maximum of 10,000.

A decision on whether spectators will be at the Paralympics will be taken in mid-July.

Officials said they would make contingency plans to allow events to go ahead without any spectators if the infection rates get worse during the Olympics.

The news came as a Ugandan athlete tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Japan for the Games.

“In principle, spectators will be admitted to events subject to limits,” organisers said in a statement. “In light of the Government’s restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50% of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues.”

Japanese media reports said as many as 20,000 people could attend the Olympic opening ceremony at the main stadium, but organisers said the number would “not be that high”.

Government officials said they would leave open the option of holding events without spectators if the infection situation worsened before or during the Olympics.

“If there should be major dramatic change in infections, we may need to revisit this matter amongst ourselves, and we may need to consider the option of having no spectators in the venues,” said the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike.

“We want people there to appreciate Tokyo 2020," Hashimoto said. "What is most important is for people in Japan to feel safe and secure, so we have to keep providing information to make them feel that way.”

Spectators will be asked to wear masks, to travel directly to venues and to return home as soon as events have finished.

The Japanese government’s top health adviser, Shigeru Omi, said last week that banning all fans would be the safest option, The Guardian reported. “We believe the risks of infections inside venues would be lowest by holding the event with no fans,” said Omi, a former World Health Organization official.

“We believe it would be most desirable not to have fans inside venues. Regardless of holding the Olympics or not, Japan has continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on the medical system.”

Organisers and the IOC decided this year to ban overseas spectators, while the number of officials, journalists and support staff has been cut to below 80,000 (lots of hangers-on there) , in addition to 11,500 athletes.

The Japanese public remains opposed to holding the Games with up 65% in favour of the event being postponed or cancelled.

Japan has seen a comparatively small Covid-19 outbreak, but its death toll of nearly 14,500 is high by regional standards.

If the Games do go ahead, it will be all about the cash with athletes second and spectators third. It is clear they should be held next year, when the vast majority of officials, athletes and spectator will have been vaccinated.   

# The writer has covered three Olympic Games dating back to 1980, and has been a consultant to the IOC   

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