Controversy over the safety of holding the Tokyo Olympics has continued for months. Thursday, the International Olympic Committee said that the Games will continue even if Tokyo or other areas of Japan remain under a state of emergency due to coronavirus outbreaks, according to ESPN.
- The first event of the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics begins two months from today on July 21, Quartz reports. The Games will officially open July 23 and run to Aug. 8.
The Japanese public and firms largely oppose the Games and want them postponed or canceled, ESPN and The South China Morning Post report. The Tokyo Medical Practitioner’s Association wrote a letter last week to key decision-makers calling for the Olympics to be canceled due to concerns of health system capacity and COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Tokyo is one of 10 prefectures in Japan currently under a state of emergency due to COVID-19 outbreaks, says The South China Morning Post. The emergency measures are expected to be in place for about a month but may be extended.
New resolve from the International Olympic Committee
- According to ESPN, John Coates said that the measures the committee is taking “are satisfactory and will ensure a safe and secure Games in terms of health. And that’s the case whether there is a state of emergency or not.”
- When asked if the Games would continue, Coates said via The New York Times: “All of the plans to protect safety and security of athletes are based around worst possible circumstances. So the answer is absolutely yes,” However, according to ESPN, the most senior member of the IOC told the Japanese press that the final deadline for calling off the Olympics is the end of June.
Who could cancel the Games? What would the result be?
Based on legal contracts, the only entity capable of canceling the Olympics is the IOC, according to Quartz. The IOC receives almost 75% of its income by selling the rights to broadcast the Games, giving it substantial motivation to ensure that the Games can be broadcast, says ESPN.
- Historically, the Olympic Games have only been canceled during wartime, Quartz says.
If the Games were canceled, the cost would fall on Tokyo and other Japanese organizers as well as the main commercial sponsors, Alibaba, Toyota and Dow, reports Quartz. Ultimately, athletes would suffer the most if the Games were to be canceled.