Even with the constant Euro 2020 updates everywhere you turn, another sports story has been bubbling under the surface and it revolves around the upcoming Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics, and whether they should even be going ahead.
Being a fan of the Olympics, it’s easy to think that the simple answer to this question would be a big fat YES, but I’m going to take a look at it without my sport-loving tinted glasses on… wish me luck!
So, as we’re probably all aware, this particular Olympic games has already been delayed by 12 months and as stated previously, it’s due to be taking place in the capital city of Japan. It was only towards the end of last week when Japan’s Prime Minster, Yoshida Suga, announced the country’s state of emergency will be lifted in nine Prefectures. If I’ve just confused you, Prefectures are the 47 subdivisions of the country, which are larger than cities, towns and villages.
To think that the state of emergency has only just been lifted and the games are a mere 31 days away is pretty bonkers. That’s even before you throw in the fact that there will be 206 countries competing against one another, many of which are in close contact. That number will surely put some strain on the areas only recently coming out of Covid-19’s grip.
We also have to think about the spectator side. The past 12 months has shown us that sport without the fans is futile at best. The Olympics committee has just announced that 10,000 fans will be permitted at venues across the city. This, however, is completely contrary to the advice given by health officials, and it makes me question if all this is being a little rushed.
There is of course also quarantine to think about. Just like the general public, all athletes flying into the country to compete will have to undertake a 14-day quarantine. At first thought this might not seem so bad, but when you take into account that these are elite sportspeople who will be competing for the biggest prizes, a 14-day quarantine, alone in a hotel room, hardly sounds like the best preparation if you’re going for gold, does it? When these guys compete they want to make sure they are at peak physical fitness and with quarantine rules in place it’s unlikely they will be. This can not only result in a loss and feeling like you let your country down, but we’re also more likely to see an increase in injuries.
Now let’s look at the other side. In what has been a dreary 18 months for us all, it’s occasions like the Tokyo Olympics that could really lift our spirits and give us something to get behind. Just look at the Euros for example, even with England’s below par performances the large amount of us seem in good spirits (I think). Nations from all over the world need to be brought together and what better way to do that than the biggest sporting occasion on the planet.
From the athletes’ point of view, this is everything they work for and it would seem harsh to take away their ultimate dream for another 12 months. Not to mention their families who have endured an extra-long fIve-year wait to see their loved ones compete against the best in the business. Also, who knows what can happen in a year? Those who are raring to compete now might not be able to in 2022 – injuries are a common factor at such a high level of sporting competition.
So I guess, to summarise, for me personally, it only makes sense if it’s safe. I, just like most of you, would love to tune in for the two weeks and see world records get smashed left, right and centre. But at the same time, the last thing we want to do is undo all our hard work. We’ve all given up so much to get to this point and the truth of the matter is, an event to the scale of the Tokyo Olympics could ruin that within a matter of days.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds over the next couple of weeks and if it does go ahead then there’s only one thing left to say…
COME ON TEAM GB!
By Sam Wright