16 Oct 2021
23rd May 2021
The Olympics are still going forward!
The Tokyo Olympics are happening on July 23. As the date looms closer, the International Olympics Committee and the population of Tokyo are readying themselves for what is sure to be the strangest Olympics yet.
There has been a lot of talk of another delay, or even cancelation of the event, but the key decision-makers are charging ahead with plans to make the games COVID safe. When asked if the Olympics would go ahead even under a state of emergency, International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates said, "Absolutely, yes."
The 2020 Olympics was such an anticipated event, it is a real shame that it been marked with so much controversy. I'm sure I'm not the only one who had Japanese friends telling me they were excited for the event before the Rio Olympics in 2016 had even begun.
The decision has been made to continue with the Olympics because so much time and money has been put into it already that it is impossible to write off the costs, both in money and public moral. Not only are there already Sponships and television rights contracts signed, but there were massive overhauls of English language support all across Japan, anticipating the massive influx of foreign tourism that the games would bring. Sadly, that boon of tourists that people were so eager for two is now a curse.
In order to keep the games safe and reduce the risk of spreading, the current plan is for no international fans to be permitted entry to Japan for the Olympics or Paralympics. Prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the Games would be "safe and secure" and could serve as a "symbol of global solidarity" despite this. Japanese resident fans may be able to attend, but spectator limits at the Games will not be decided until June. The President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Seiko Hashimoto, told Agence France-Presse "There might be a situation where we can't allow any spectators to attend," proving how serious these measures to make the games safe are going to be.
More than 4,000 athletes from all around the world are still set to take part in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, along with an estimated 79,000 entourage of foreign staff. All athletes and staff will be issued with a smartphone, unless they already have one, and be made to download two apps for health reporting and contact tracing. They will all receive multiple COVID tests through the games and must wear masks, even during medal ceremonies. They also have to follow a "playbook" - a set of rules which tell athletes where they can travel to, where they can eat and how to behave during the Games. Anyone who doesn't follow these rules will be expelled from the Games.
Journalists and other staff will have to follow strict rules as well. Interviews directly after a match are ban, and any happening in the mixed zone will be limited to 90 seconds. The interviewer must stand at least two metres away from the athletes and use a boom mic to maintain that distance.
It'll be an odd experience for British athletes, to say the least. They are one of the few groups who plan to be full vaccinated before arrival yet will still no doubt feel on edge having to follow all of these rules and restrictions. Hopefully, this will be a chance for our Olympians to be the face of the UK, not only in sports, but in good manners and health consciousness.
Gold medalists Patrick Huston and Sarah Bettles Along with Paralympic medallists Matt Skelhon and James Bevis, will be representing team GB.
This is another great opportunity for cross-cultural connections between the UK, Japan and the rest of the world. Despite no international spectators being allowed, the globe will still have its eyes on Japan, and our unity in sports here will reflect how we face the global challenges in the years to come.
In summary, the Olympics will be different this year, but so will everything else on planet earth. We can all watch it from home, knowing that we each have the best seat in the house. It makes it truly international and a real equaliser for fans all around the world.