Japan needs to postpone 2020 Olympics


Photo contributed by ABC News

Due to the spread of the coronavirus worldwide, Japan should postpone the 2020 Olympics.

The Olympic Games is a multi-sport event held every four years, each time in a different location. It is an honor for any country to be the host of this amazing global sports festival, which is watched by many people around the world. According to Statista’s website, it was recorded that 3.6 billion people watched the 2016 Olympics in Rio. 

This year, the summer event is to be held in Tokyo, Japan. While the 2020 Olympics are bringing much excitement, there are also feelings of caution and fear. The infamous Coronavirus Disease 2019 is a looming concern over many Olympic participants, as Tokyo has been affected by this virus. I feel that it is Tokyo’s responsibility to make the health and safety of the games’ athletes and attendees a priority by postponing the Olympics. 

Japan is no stranger to this disease. According to the Coronavirus disease 2019 Situation Report, last updated as of March 2, 2020, Japan has 254 confirmed cases and six total deaths. This makes Japan one of the many affected countries hosting this disease. 

The CDC has issued a level 2 alert in Japan, meaning that citizens should be practicing enhanced precautions. These key points include that the virus can move from person to person, and that Japan is experiencing “sustained community transmission,” cautioning  travelers to prevent the further spread of the illness. 

With plans for the Olympics underway, the current question for Japan would be whether to cancel or postpone the games in attempt to prevent the further spread of the disease. I believe that in the interest of the athletes, participants and the many expected spectators, if this health crisis continues or worsens, the games must be postponed. 

At the Olympic Games, there are over 11,000 athletes expected in Tokyo, Japan from over 200 countries, in addition to the estimated 920,000 foreigners that would come to watch, according to CorD magazine. I believe that this would be the perfect environment for the Coronavirus to spread with little to no prevention. 

If the Olympics were to continue in July, there is a possibility that the disease will be better contained by that time and less of an overall threat to the community. If not contained through current preventive measures, there is little chance that a vaccine will be available that soon. According to an article from Healthline, during the SARS outbreak, it took 20 months for a vaccine to be ready for testing on people.  

There are many difficulties in canceling or postponing the games. Liam Hunt, a market analyst, said in an article by Forbes, that canceling or postponing the games would not only waste the billions spent on the event, but also ruin the athlete’s training programs. Hunt further explains how the IOC would have a tough decision to make, between protecting public health and preserving all the work already gone into the games. 

I agree with Hunt that there should not be a rush to cancel or postpone the games, but feel that a thoughtful approach is needed to come to the decision. I believe that Japan needs to make an announcement soon as to whether the games will be affected, as so many are involved in this event.  

Currently, Japan is staying on track to proceed with the 2020 Olympics based on the regular schedule. Japan is also encouraging the participating athletes to continue training. 

The issue with the 2020 Olympics stems from the question of whether to protect the public’s health and help prevent the further spread of this infectious disease, or to focus on the expected economic effects that would ultimately harm Japan. 

This problem has come before with the lack of action by the host country. The current situation is similar to the 2016 Rio Olympics, when the games in Brazil were not cancelled despite the risks of the Zika virus.

In this position, there needs to be an action if there is any doubt that the games could be harmful to any of the participants or viewers despite the potential impact on the Japanese economy as the health of citizens should take priority. 

I am hoping to see in the next month that Japan takes action and announce plans relative to the games that will prevent further outbreak and if they proceed, to make the games as safe as possible. 

I am interested in seeing whether Japan will postpone the Olympic games, and if not, what preventive measures they will put in place to lower the potential infection risk.