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Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and COVID-19

BY: WANK TEAM

The 2020 Summer Olympics are finally underway and are being held in Tokyo, Japan from July 23rd  to August 8th 2021; officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. The events that were supposed to take place from July 24th to August 9th 2020 but were reschedule for the 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first time in history of the Games -in the past previous games were cancelled (World War II) but never rescheduled-.

The Games kept the Tokyo 2020 name for marketing and branding purposes. Worldwide leaders agreed that “the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.[1]

The events are being held largely behind closed doors with no public spectators permitted due to the pandemic and to avoid any risk of a superspreading event.

The 2020 Games sees new policies that allow the host organizing committee to add new sports to the Olympic program for those Games. The disciplines added by the Japanese Olympic Committee are baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding -the last four are Olympic debuts-.

The Games will feature 339 events in 33 different sports, including a total of 50 disciplines; and have 205 National Olympic Committee teams plus the Refugee Olympic Team qualified. This means 11,656 athletes competing in Tokyo.[2]

A complete cancellation of the Games would have cost Japan approximately US$41.5 billion, considering operating expenses and loss of tourism. Events ticket sales were expected to bring in approximately US$800 million; which will not happen given the restrinctions.

In July 2021, it was announced that all events in Tokyo were to be held behind closed doors with no spectators due to a new state of emergency. A poll found that 55% of those surveyed supported the cancellation of the Olympics, and 68% felt that organisers would not be able to control COVID-19 at the Games.

In February 2017, the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced an “electronics recycling program”, requesting donations of electronics such as mobile phones to be reclaimed as materials for the medals. The objective was to collect eight tons of metals to produce the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Due to COVID-19 protocols, athletes will be presented with their medals on trays and asked to put them on themselves, rather than have them placed by a dignitary.

In February 2021, the IOC informed that participants will be asked to use Japan’s Exposure Notification app and will be tested at least every four days. Athletes who test positive will be unable to compete and may be quarantined at a government facility. Close contacts must also test negative in order to be cleared for competition. Athletes must arrive up to five days prior to the start of the competition and have to leave within 48 hours once they have been eliminated from the sport or competitions have been concluded. The IOC recommended the vaccination of athletes but they will not be a requirement.

On March 2021, the President of the IOC announced that in nations where Chinese vaccines are approved for use, the Chinese Olympic Committee offered to cover the costs of the CoronaVac and Sinopharm vaccines for athletes competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2022 Winter Olympics. [3] On May 2021, Pfizer announced that it would donate doses of its vaccine to National Olympic Committees competing in Tokyo.[4] Due to international travel restrictions, the organising committee announced that no international guests -including Olympic public- would be allowed to attend the Games. All these measures trying to avoid a new surge of COVID-19 infections after the Games finish.

Unless COVID-19 change the plans, the upcoming events are the Summer Paralympics which will be held between August 24th and September 5th 2021; the Winter Olympics in Beijing to begin on February 4th 2022. And on the long run, the 33rd Olympiad in Paris 2024, followed by the 34th Olympiad in Los Angeles.

  1. https://www.newsweek.com/reason-why-olympics-2021-will-still-called-olympic-2020-games-1494333
  2. https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/en/
  3. https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1105338/ioc-tokyo-2020-china-vaccine-offer-nocs
  4. https://olympics.com/ioc/news/ioc-welcomes-pfizer-and-biontech-s-donation-of-vaccines-to-teams-heading-for-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games-tokyo-2020

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