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Despite rising Covid-19 cases, why is Japan going ahead with Olympics?

SportsDespite rising Covid-19 cases, why is Japan going ahead with Olympics?

Despite rising COVID-19 cases with the total number of games-related Covid cases to 75 on Wednesday, Japan is going ahead with the Olympics.

The total number of Games-related Covid cases rose to 75 on Wednesday. A Chilean taekwondo player and a Dutch skateboarder were ruled out after testing positive.
If the number of athletes testing positive goes up, questions are rising whether the Games be called off?

On Tuesday, the organizing committee for the first time suggested that it may have to take a call on the Games if cases in Tokyo and elsewhere keep rising. “What would happen if the infection were to spread further — well, I think when that happens we have to fully consult,” the committee’s CEO Toshiro Muto said. “The infection may spread, or the infection may be brought under better control. When we see a concrete situation going forward, then we will consider the matter.

IOC president Thomas Bach had recently claimed that there were “zero risks” of athletes transmitting the virus to each other or local residents.

Around other mega-events around the world, the Indian Premier League was halted in May after a Covid alarm with players and staff in four franchises infected. In contrast, the NBA had 48 positive cases within one week of testing before the season, but the league still went ahead. Many cricket series went ahead despite positive cases, some with a slight delay in the original schedule.

The recent European Championship in football was staged across the continent at stadiums with spectators and fans congregating in the streets. It resulted in a spike in cases in England. The victory parade of the Italian team in Rome may also contribute to a surge.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is keen to hold a successful — and safe — Olympics. He has been championing the Games despite a majority of the country’s population and public health experts preferring another postponement or even an outright cancellation. As such, if the Games are not held in the July 23-August 8 window, it will hurt Suga’s prospects badly ahead of the general elections in September.

Holding a famous Olympics would add to Japan’s honor and standing in the world. Another postponement or cancellation may, according to the Japanese government, be an embarrassment or failure of sorts.

It appears to be a tussle between China and Japan.  If Japan is not able to hold the Olympics and the situation improves enough by next February for Beijing to hold the big event, it will have a psychological and sensitive impact, even if only as a matter of public perception. That’s why Japan is ready to go to almost any lengths to hold the Games.

Japan has gone through an economic fall, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster over the last decade. It wants to show that they are back among the top nations — economically, politically, and also in the sporting arena, it appears.  But do the risks outweigh the benefits?  Is it not a high price to pay when the third predicted COVID wave is around the corner?

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