We are hardly two months away from the much-awaited Tokyo Olympics. The Games which were originally scheduled in 2020 was postponed as the pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Even as the postponed Games draw closer, the deadly virus continues to wreak havoc in the World.
With the general public of Japan against the hosting of the Olympics, the future of the carnival of sports is still uncertain. A recent poll by the Asahi newspaper found 59% of respondents were against any fans, up from 45% in April, with those in favor of just capping attendance dipping to 33% from 49%.
Yet the organisers are confident of hosting the Games as the government extends a third state of emergency as cases continue to climb throughout the country. They have largely been driven by more infectious strains from abroad, adding to concerns about inviting thousands of overseas participants.
“We are prepared for no spectators,” Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Olympics Organising Committee President
After a long wait of over a year, fans are slowly returning to the stadiums to witness their favorite sports. But it is unlikely that the fans will be in attendance at the biggest events of them all, the Olympics. Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics are set to decide next month if local spectators will be allowed to attend events.
“We are prepared for no spectators,” Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Japan Olympic Organizing Committee, said late last month. “But we want as many people to watch as the situation allows.“
The decision to hold the Games behind closed doors will be a tough call for the organisers. Barring domestic fans would deliver a significant financial blow, eliminating a major source of revenue. But the move will be a relief for the already strained medical system of the country as a second wave of the deadly virus ravages Japan.
Initially, 600,000 fans from abroad had been projected to attend. But the organisers ruled out that possibility in March. They are now set to take a decision on domestic spectators in June keeping in mind the meteorical rise of cases in Japan.
Backlash over Thomas Bach’s statements
A recent statement made by IOC president Thomas Bach has led to controversy as he said, “The athletes definitely can make their Olympic dreams come true. We have to make some sacrifices to make this possible.” This led to the Japanese public stating that they themselves were the ‘sacrifices’ that he was talking about.
He was also criticized for talking about the ‘resilience’ of the Japanese public while he himself was safe from all the ill-effects of holding a huge sporting tournament amidst a pandemic. Twitter was abuzz with criticism from the Japanese public. “Thomas Bach and John Coates are neck and neck in the race for the most hated pariah here. I predict a dead heat,” said a Twitter user. “Does he say that the safety, health, and life of the Japanese should be sacrificed for the Olympics?” another asked.
The Tokyo Olympic Games begin on the 23rd of July.