The Tokyo Games Will Go on
A growing chorus is calling for the long-awaited Tokyo Olympics to be canceled, even though the facts on the ground leave Japanese authorities with no sound reason to do so. The only thing that will stop the event now is a no-show by all of the athletes themselves.
LONDON – Having been postponed from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic Games are approaching their opening on July 23 amid a chorus of doom. Japanese and foreigners alike are predicting, or even outright demanding, the event’s cancellation.
Among those coming out in favor of scrapping the Games is one of the event’s official partners, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. Depending on one’s reading of the polls, that position is apparently supported by 60-80% of the Japanese population. And various medical groups argue that the Games will put unacceptable pressure on Japan’s health system at a time when the pandemic is still raging. As if to confirm this sense of crisis, the Japanese government has now declared that Tokyo will be under a state of emergency throughout the Games.
But this is all rather strange. The cancellation chorus makes it sound like Japan is in the grip of a harrowing wave of COVID-19 cases. But that plainly is not the case. The situation is nothing like that of India or Brazil. On July 7, for example, Japan, with 120 million people, reported just 1,683 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, down from the recent peaks of 6,460 new cases on May 14 and 113 deaths on May 23.