Looking Forward to Summer 2021
In March 2020, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the 2020 Olympic Games, which were taking place in Tokyo that summer, were postponed to 2021. Now summer 2021 is nearing, COVID-19 is still a threat and there are questions about the Olympics.
In recent months, COVID cases in Japan have steadily risen, and in April, Japan’s central government declared a third state of emergency. Even in the state of emergency, which mostly places restrictions on restaurants and businesses, Olympic organizing officials all insist that the Olympics will still take place. Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said in an IOC (International Olympic Committee) press conference that all preparations are working toward ensuring that the people of Japan, and specifically Tokyo, feel safe. This announcement is likely in response to polls such as one from Reuters, which show that a majority of Japanese citizens support the cancellation or postponement of the 2021 Olympic Games.
In order to silence concerns, Hashimoto said the IOC plans to limit the number of participants entering Japan, to enforce the codes of conduct and health monitoring and to review the Games-time medical system. Additionally, Hashimoto argues that four successful test events prove that it is safe to hold the Olympics even under a state of emergency. According to an article from the IOC, after more than 700 athletes and 6,000 staff participated in four test events, there was not a single positive case during the competitions. These test events included international volleyball games with athletes from 46 countries; the FINA Diving World Cup 2021; the 2021 Sapporo Marathon Festival; and Ready Steady Tokyo, which included 350 athletes competing in numerous events. There have also been other safe and successful qualification events.
Vice president of the IOC, John Coates says the answer to the question of the Olympics taking place is “absolutely yes.” As of now, one can watch from July 23, 2021 to August 8.