The uncertainties surrounding the Tokyo Olympics continue to mount with each passing day. The quadrennial event was supposed to take place last year, but was postponed till 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. While 2021 is already here and more than two months have passed in the year, there is little to no clarity over whether the Olympics which is scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan will go ahead as planned or not.
So, what's the situation like in Tokyo? Are the citizens of the city open to athletes, fans and journalists from all across the world flying down to the city under the prevailing circumstances? What is the stand of International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government regarding the same? And what do we know so far?
Well, if all goes fine and as expected, we might see the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics being held on 23rd July 2021. If the quadrennial event happens, more than 11,000 athletes from across the globe would fly down to the city of Tokyo along with 4000 other athletes for the Paralympics, putting the citizens of the city in grave danger of contracting the deadly virus.
So, it's only fair when more than 80% of the Japanese citizens voted against holding the Olympics in a survey conducted during January 2021. But the IOC and Japanese Government have been quite adamant about going forward with the prestigious games as planned.
While there were some strong rumors of the Olympics being scrapped altogether in January earlier this year, the President of IOC, Thomas Bach, himself stepped in to clear the air and said, "Our task is to organise Olympic Games and not to cancel Olympic Games. This is why we are working day and night to organise safe Olympic Games. We are not speculating whether the Games will take place. We are working on how the Games will take place. And we see the same commitment on the Japanese side with the Japanese government, the Organising Committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee."
The Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, too echoed the same sentiment and had said, "We are holding the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. I am determined to achieve the Games as a proof of human victory against the pandemic, a symbol of global solidarity and to give hope and courage around the world."
Later, the IOC and Tokyo Olympics organisers released a 33-page 'playbook' in February 2021, further reiterating the fact that they expect the Olympics to go ahead as planned. The playbook highlighted the basic rules and regulations the players, officials and fans have to follow during the games. The attendees are expected to be masked whilst also avoiding crowed places. Moreover the travellers need to produce a negative test within 72 hours of departure and then need to test negative on their arrival in Japan. Even though quarantining is not mandatory, they would still not be allowed in public places during the first 14 days of their arrival.
Recently a report in Kyodo News – a local Japanese newspaper, pointed out that the Japanese government might not allow foreign spectators to the Games due to the fear of the virus.
"We would really like people from around the world to come to a full stadium, but unless we are prepared to accept them and the medical situation in Japan is perfect, it will cause a great deal of trouble also to visitors from overseas," said Tokyo Olympics President Seiko Hashimoto.
This comes just days after a survey conducted by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun noted that more than 75% of the Japanese citizens are not in favour of foreign fans attending the Olympics owing to the fear of a deadly virus outbreak.
From whatever information is out in the open, the fate of Tokyo Olympics continues to hang in balance. But, what makes one hopeful is the 121-day long torch relay which is expected to begin on 25th March 2021 from the Fukushima Prefecture.