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Tokyo Olympics 2020

How The Coronavirus May Impact The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are nearly five months away, and growing concerns over the worldwide coronavirus outbreak has fans, athletes, and authority figures scrambling to ensure the safety of everyone in Tokyo within the coming months. As of right now, the Games are still going to be held as scheduled from July 24th to August 9th.

According to the most recent reports from the World Health Organization, there have been a total of 28 confirmed cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus, now being classified as COVID-19, in Japan, however, Wuhan, China still holds a majority of the coronavirus patients; 99% of more than 45,000 cases. In the United States there has been a total of 15 confirmed cases, and one death.

Additionally, there are also 175 confirmed cases of the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which is docked and quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan (about 45 minutes away from Tokyo). In response, Tokyo 2020’s organizing committee announced that they’re working on countermeasures for any and all possibilities they can imagine regarding the coronavirus. 

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“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and we will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organizations. As you can imagine in circumstances like this, people’s imaginations run wild and they tend to go to the worst possible scenario without getting good facts,” Doug Arnot, who has been on the executive management teams of six Olympics, said

Luckily, when it comes to an event as tightly scheduled and monumental as the Olympics, individuals working behind the scenes are always planning for every worst case scenario imaginable; health wise and beyond. Because of this, the International Olympic Committee and Officials in Japan have made it clear that they have no intention of postponing or cancelling the games despite worldwide “panic,” which as Arnot stated, isn’t fully based on facts.

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Craig Spence, a spokesperson for the International Paralympic Committee, said that “fear is spreading quicker than the virus, and it is important that we quell that fear,” to The Associated Press. While large crowds and heavy travelling is inevitable for the 2020 games, that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be exposed and turn ill in the middle of the events. Misinformation and fear mongering tactics are making the coronavirus seem like a new plague, when the reality is it’s pretty much just as bad as the standard flu. 

“I’d like to make it clear that there have been no talks or plans [to cancel/postpone] being considered between organizers and the International Olympic Committee since the World Health Organization declared an emergency. The IOC has been in contact with the WHO and its own medical experts and we have full confidence that the relevant authorities will take all the necessary measures to address the situation,” Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister, told legislators/media outlets, according to The Japan Times.

There are over 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries predicted to be competing in the Games this year. Additionally, over 600,000 overseas visitors/tourists are expected to be travelling to Japan within the two month summer Olympic period. Such a large crowd compacted into a relatively small area poses an obvious risk for airborne disease to spread. The Olympics themselves are still months away, so it’s too early to tell what kind of additional health and safety precautions will be taken to protect the well-being of all Olympic athletes and attendees.