There is arguably no other sporting event that is as truly global as the Olympics. It is the greatest sporting fiesta that truly embraces the spirit of participation. Soccer may be regarded as many as the king of sports, but the mother of all sports has to be the Olympic games bringing together athletes of all the nations of the world to experience both the personal fulfillment of participation and the honor of representing their nations.
For years before the four-yearly events; athletes all over the world prepare religiously for the opportunity and honor of being an Olympian at the next Olympic event. While many may not experience the dizzying feeling of reaching the summit as an Olympic medalist; or ever become a legend of the games like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Larisa Latynina, and many others, for most, the pride of being a participant at the games – an Olympian – appears to be sufficient motivation to prepare themselves meticulously for years to have the opportunity to make it there.
The International Olympic Committee announced the postponement of the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year after countries like Canada, Australia, and a few others decided that they would not be sending athletes to the Olympics due to the pandemic.
The postponement of the summer Olympics from last year July would be the sixth time that the Olympics would either be postponed or canceled outright. But it would be the first time that Olympic games would not hold as scheduled for a reason other than war. However, the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics came at an extra cost of $3.5 billion.
But the consideration is not just about money; it is about the reassurance of the citizens of Tokyo that hosting the games will not come at a cost far greater than paper money as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
With a slow vaccine rollout, Tokyo and nine other regions under a state of emergency along with rising numbers of severe coronavirus cases, most Japanese oppose hosting the Olympics. Thus the stringent call by many – both citizens and authorities from some quarters – for another postponement of the games.
However, the head of Japan's Olympics organizing committee has since ruled out the possibility of another shift of the Games, despite civic protestations at the prospect of thousands of athletes and officials traveling into Tokyo on what is presently the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.
Highlighting the public fears, residents in one of the training centers, Ota City, were angry over a decision to give vaccinations priority to staff attending to visiting Australian softball players, media also said.
President of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, who herself competed in seven summers and winter Olympics as a cyclist and skater, has put to an end any prospect of any other postponement by declaring to the Nikkan Sports Newspaper that Tokyo cannot afford to have another postponement of the Olympic Games. She similarly told the BBC that although Japanese people were understandably worried, they should, however, be reassured with the "bubble situation” that was being carefully constructed to ensure that the Japanese public was safely insulated against the possibility of infection from the pandemic.
In her words, she believes that there is a 100% possibility of the Games going on; adding that the organizing committee is committed to and promise all the athletes that they will defend and protect their health."
But Seiko Hashimoto is not alone in feeling confident about Tokyo’s chances of pulling off a successful event as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga seems to be also feeling equally bullish of a successful Olympics and Paralympics as he plans a snap vote afterward, the Asahi newspaper reports.
Japan, the city of Tokyo to be specific, committed with enthusiasm to hosting the world during the summer of 2020 without anticipating the occurrence and impact of a world pandemic that has not only caused a postponement of the greatest sporting spectacle once already; but now threatens to make it impossible to hold altogether as the Japanese people weigh the cost of doing so to them.
Still, Japan, and indeed the authorities of Tokyo are doing everything to keep their promise of hosting the rest of the world. But the question now is, “will they have done enough?”
In the next article, we will take a look at all that the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee is doing to keep its promise to the rest of the world and its people.
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