Could the Olympic Games 2021 still be canceled? What's Japan's position?
Postponed for a year because of the covid-19 crisis, the 2020 summer Olympics in Japan will take place this July 23th amidst internal turmoil.
Japan is suffering a surge in COVID-19 cases that are seriously putting the ability of the country to host the games this summer. Today, the Asian country is in a state of emergency, with 9 of its 47 prefectures confined, including Tokyo and Osaka, the two largest cities.
Recently a labor union representing some 130 doctors presented a written letter to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, pleading to cancel the games. The doctors disagree with the government. "We should not turn Tokyo into a coronavirus hotspot. The Tokyo Olympics should not be held now," said Dr. Naoto Ueyama, a representative for the doctor's union.
The central government wants local governments and doctors to allocate resources for the Olympics. However, in many cases, these resources are limited. Thus, prompting a refusal by these to provide those resources for the games.
"We are not considering securing or allocating hospital beds for people related to the Olympics to use, if that means that citizens of our prefecture will not be able to use them," commented Toshihito Kumagai, governor of the prefecture of Chiba.
Furthermore, the central government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are struggling to find places that would host the athletes. About 40 towns out of 500 have said to drop out of a program set up to host the athletes.
The Prime Minister of the country, Yoshihide Suga, maintained that "my priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population." The government has already made a significant investment in hosting the Olympics, and postponing the games or canceling them seems like a move they are not ready to make.
The IOC has been quiet about the situation in the country. How the games generate revenue is by T.V. rights and sponsorship. If the event proceeds without fans on the stands, they will not suffer any loss of earnings, a different story for the Japanese government.