After immense pressure the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee have finally announced the postponement of this year’s Olympic Games which were scheduled to take place in Tokyo over the summer. The outcome came as no surprise to many, however, the organizing bodies did attempt to hold out on their decision for as long as possible, waiting until after Australia and Canada had already said they would not be attending the games, should they have gone ahead.
The decision came amidst the cancellations and postponements of major sporting events like the Six Nations, the NBA, Wimbledon and almost every single football league and cup competition in Europe, excluding top-flight Belarussian football (which is still going on for reasons incomprehensible to many). The decision to cancel the games seems like an obvious and sensible one.
Many Tokyo-bound athletes received the announcement with disappointment but also acceptance, recognizing that doing whatever necessary to ensure the safety of people’s lives in times like these must take priority. French judo champion, Teddy Rinner, summed up the general attitude amongst the Olympians with an Instagram post writing, “Tokyo 2021 – first we have a more important fight to win”
“Tokyo 2021 – first we have a more important fight to win”Teddy Rinner
Before the decision was made to postpone the Olympics, the IOC proposed that perhaps the games could be seen as a “beacon of light” at the end of tunnel. Japan had also seemed to manage to control the virus within their country which was another positive sign. Nevertheless, since the postponement of the games was confirmed, the number of cases of Covid-19 in Japan has spiked drawing some criticism for the Japanese government. It has been implied that Japan may have attempted to under-report the severity of the impact of the pandemic in their country, in the hope that it may have meant the games were able to go ahead.
Japan have denied these allegations. However, their potential motives for trying to ensure the Olympics did go ahead this summer are understandable. The Olympics were seen as a way for the country to move forward after the tsunami and earthquake in 2011 killed 20,000 people. The people of Japan were extremely excited for the games this summer. However, perhaps more significant than the potential social impact is the financial impact, with the postponement of the games estimated to cost the Japanese government at least another $2.7bn.
Ultimately, however great the financial loss may be, it pales into insignificance when compared with the value of the human lives which may be saved as a result of the postponement
Last modified: 4th April 2020