It’s night time on the streets of Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan when the Olympic torch arrives. The slow jog of the torch holder in the viralized video shows past viewers lining the road. Then, as the flames pass, a woman in the crowd fires a water gun.
“Extinguish the Olympic flame! Oppose the Tokyo Olympics! It booms. Security rushes around him.
The backdrop for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games is set to begin in Tokyo on July 23, with the Kovid-19 cases on the rise, leading to the city declaring a fourth state of emergency as the epidemic begins. The growing case load is particularly troubling as vaccination rates remain low in the country. Only 18% of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated.
Yet there is pressure on the International Olympic Committee. There are billions of dollars at stake in the multi-million dollar cost of the sinking – the કિંમત 1.4 billion cost of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium alone – as well as billions more in potential revenue from IOC, Japan, local organizers and broadcasters.
The global health crisis that is so far away is surprisingly money, and the government is determined to pay for its gamble: the confrontational forces in Tokyo are unprecedented. And despite strict new rules in sports, experts worry that the Kovid-19 could get worse in Japan.
About 100,000 athletes, staff and family members and others are expected to enter Japan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and organizers say they are working to keep them safe.
Brian Mlos Kloski, chairman of an independent panel advising the IOC on measures to reduce Covid-19 for Tokyo, acknowledged the concerns. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, athletes, staff and others will be closely monitored, he says.
“The goal is to keep no coronavirus in Tokyo,” McCloskey says. “The goal is to prevent that individual case from becoming a cluster and spreading events.”
Athletes, staff and officers will be tested at various intervals during the games. Residents of The Olympic Village will be tested daily, for example, while Japanese workers who come in close contact with athletes will be tested more often than those who direct traffic. McCloskey says the contact tracing system at the Olympic Village will be used to help hear any potential cases. Anyone entering Japan will need to download a contact tracing app, and athletes and members of the media will be asked to turn on GPS tracking on their phones. Organizers say location data will only be used if there is a covid case.
As the games got closer the measures became more and more stringent. Audience members from other countries were banned months ago, and earlier this month it was announced that no spectators would come to places in and around Tokyo.
McCloskey says running games among the dangers to public health is an example – even if previous games were not on the same scale as Covid. When he advised the IOC for the 2012 London Olympics, organizers considered the possibility of a SARS epidemic emerging, he says. And before the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there was concern about Zika (pictures later said there were no reported cases among athletes or spectators).
For Tokyo, the IOC has published some “playbooks” of instructions for athletes, staff, volunteers and the press.
But despite the strict rules, games will inevitably mix with people and interact in ways that don’t happen. Weeks before the opening ceremony, cases have already been reported.
“It’s not just this phenomenon,” says Lancey Murr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, a leading expert on airborne transmission of the virus. “It’s everything else associated with the event: hotels, restrooms, means of transportation.”