Trouble In Japan?: Tokyo Olympics 2020 & Pandemic Pressure

The biggest event of the year will begin soon. But can Japan handle the Olympics and the COVID-19 pandemic?

Knowing About The Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics 2020* is scheduled to begin in japan on July 23, and the Games will conclude on August 8, 2021. (*Despite taking place a year later, the Games are still called as Tokyo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes). The Games were delayed for a year due to the pandemic. It was the first time the Games were postponed or rescheduled.

The Games will be conducted on a newly-built National Stadium in Tokyo. There will be a few preliminary events on July 21 and 22. The opening ceremony for the Olympics will begin from 8 PM local time or 4.30 PM Indian Standard Time. The sporting events can begin as early as 9 AM local time or 5.30 AM IST.

The mascot for the Games is Miraitowa. The name is based on the Japanese words — ‘mirai’, which means ‘future’ while ‘towa’ means ‘eternity’. MIRAITOWA has a personality inspired by the Japenese proverb, “learn from the past and develop new ideas”.

Sports

Baseball and softball are returning this year after a 13-year absence. The new sports that have been included are karate, surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding. Some new events have been added to traditional sports as well, including three-on-three basketball and Madison cycling, a two-person team event.

Many other sports will be adding relays or other competitions for mixed gender teams, which include track, swimming, triathlon, archery and table tennis. In order to bring the Games closer to overall gender parity, a few of men’s events in various sports were dropped in favour of women’s events.

Problems & Losses

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the Games a year later, and it has also led to the imposition of new rules. All spectators — both domestic and foreign — have been banned from Olympic venues in Tokyo during the Games. This decision has been made to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. The rules also include getting tested for COVID-19, wearing mask and maintaining physical distance.

If conducting the Olympics during the pandemic is a Herculean task, then why isn’t Japan cancelling it? There were several talks about cancelling the Games, but cancellation will have big ramifications. According to a blog by Nomura Research Institute (NRI), cancelling the Games will result in an economic loss of ¥1,810.8 billion.

Also, the ban on overseas visitors has already produced an economic loss of ¥150 billion. The blog also said, when no spectators are allowed, the economic benefit for Japan stands at ¥1,664 billion but if domestic spectators are allowed, the economic benefit stands at ¥1,810.8 billion. So, due to the recent ban on domestic spectators, Japan’s economy is losing ¥146.8 billion.

So, Japan can’t cancel the Games unless the country is ready to take a huge hit on its economy. At the time of writing this article, Japan was recording 2000+ cases every day, so the country is dealing with two big tasks at hand — controlling the COVID-19 infection as well as conducting the Olympics. Will the country be able to achieve both the tasks? — We will know the answer to that question in the next couple of weeks. On a completely different note, we are also keeping a close eye on the Indian participants and hope they make the country proud by bringing us a few medals.

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