A little over a month from now, the 2021 Summer Olympics are set to launch a year later than expected. But some critics and health officials want them to be delayed even longer.
As I wrote earlier here at Gaming Today, the Summer Olympics provides an opportunity for bettors to wager on different sports featuring world-class athletes that we typically don’t see. But the Covid-19 pandemic, which canceled the games last summer, is casting a small, but dreary cloud over the games once again.
As the BBC reported recently, a new wave of Covid-19 has been hitting Japan recently, and some sections of the country are still under restrictions for travel and social distancing. Some experts are concerned about variant strains of the virus, and there are questions about the legitimacy of vaccinations and testing from some of the participating nations.
Calls For Cancelation
In May, a group of Tokyo doctors called for the cancellation of the Summer Olympic Games over fears of a return of the virus and a possible variant that could crop up as thousands of athletes and support staff from across the globe congregate.
Fears of a variant strand of the Covid-19 virus were stoked this week when members of the Uganda National Team, who are already training in Japan, tested positive. All members of that team had been vaccinated and tested negative before arriving at the island nation earlier this month.
With a population of about 126 million, Japan has only 3.5% of its population vaccinated, per reports from Rueters, one of the lowest figures among Asian nations. International Olympic Committee officials have promised that the games will be operated under limited capacity and that all testing and precautionary methods will be met. The IOC announced this week that they will allow 50% capacity at all venues, including the opening and closing ceremonies. That means that as many as 10,000 fans can be in attendance for the more popular events and ceremonies. Fans from abroad have been banned from attending, so all attendees will be Japanese citizens.
Despite reassurances from the IOC and leaders in Japan, at least one poll shows that citizens in the country favor postponing or cancelling the games, which are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8 at various venues. The second-largest selling newspaper in Japan, the Asahi Shimbun, has called for the XXXII Olympics to be canceled. Japan’s chief medical expert Dr. Shigeru Omi, who is President of the Japan Community Health Care Organization, has said it’s “abnormal” to hold the Olympic Games during a global pandemic.
Should the Tokyo Olympics be canceled, there is currently no contingency plan for holding the games later or at a different location or host country.