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Concerns over postponed Olympics | Will the Tokyo Olympics go ahead in 2021?

Publish Date: 28/04/2020
Fact checked by: Mike McKean

For months the worldwide outbreak of Coronavirus has forced multiple sporting events due to take place this year, to postpone or even cancel. Now the concern falls on the Tokyo Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics were originally due to take place this year on July 24.

Due to the pandemic however, it was decided in March by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan’s organisers to postpone the 2024 Olympics by a year to open on 23 July 2021 and run until 8 August.

There is now increased doubt amongst health experts that holding the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 will be possible.

Health care professionals are advising that the event be postponed further to 2022 if there are no effective vaccinations developed for Coronavirus soon but Tokyo 2024 president Yoshiro Mori believes “the Olympics will be scrapped” if they are unable to go ahead in 2021.

Head of Japan Medical Association Yoshitake Yokokura stated last Tuesday that  “Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold the Olympics next year,” If this occurs, this will be the first time the Olympics have been cancelled since World War II. The president is however confident that the rescheduled date in 2021 will go ahead.

How the delay may affect athletes

Competing in an event as big as the Olympics requires a lot of discipline, a heavy training schedule and a strict diet.

To compete in the Olympics is something athletes train their entire lives for and to suddenly be confined to your home as we all currently are, will have a massive impact on athletes fitness and overall performance.

As we age, our bodies use oxygen less effectively resulting in our endurance declining so a two year delay may severely impact a lot of the competing athletes and some may even no longer be able to take part.

Another thing to consider is by the time the Tokyo Olympics take place (if they do), participants may have sustained injuries affecting their overall performance or being unable to compete.

How Coronavirus is affecting Japan

Initially, Japan was one of the countries which seemed to be handling the pandemic well and still only has recorded 394 deaths related to the virus which is tiny when compared to the UK which have over 21,000 deaths recorded. That being said, studies are showing that Japan is yet to hit the peak in coronavirus cases.

Kentaro Iwata a specialist in infectious diseases and professor at Kobe University last week said “To be honest with you, I don’t think the Olympics is likely to be held next year,”

“Holding the Olympics needs two conditions; one, controlling Covid-19 in Japan, and controlling Covid-19 everywhere.”

Prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, was forced to declare a state of emergency at the beginning of April which some are saying was too late.

Local governors are requesting Japan’s residents to stay at home, and businesses deemed non essential close but there are no penalties for those who choose to violate the requests which could result in an increase of confirmed cases.

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