Olympics Continue Amidst Pandemic

Runner during Grand Bara race. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen

In the wake of the covid-19 virus sweeping the world, people are being urged not to gather in large groups, restaurants and bars are closing, and sporting events are being put on hold.

The Olympics wishes to be the exception.

The IOC has, as yet, determined that the games will go on, and the host country, Japan, is working diligently to ensure that they can. The nation was among the first to report cases of the coronavirus outbreak, but it has apparently managed to minimize its transmission through the general populace. As of March 17, the World Health Organization reports 829 cases to date in Japan, with only 15 new cases found overnight.

The numbers are not certain, because as noted by the Japan Times there have been concerns about undertesting; Japan currently has the capacity to test only 6,000 samples per day, although they expect to be able to handle 8,000 per day by April. Unlike America, the problem is not that people are unable to be tested at all, but rather the speed at which the test results return.

Still, there is additional hope in the form of fast-response tests which are being manufactured by China. The new kits appear to present basic results in fifteen minutes, as opposed to the current six hour delay.

It is in this atmosphere that the IOC wishes the Olympics to continue. To that end, the Olympic flame handover ceremony will take place at Athens on Thursday, but in recognition of health concerns no outside observers will be allowed into the normally packed location. The flame will then be run through Japan, but the citizenry has been instructed not to gather to watch it; rather, people will be encouraged to watch as it passes from their homes and businesses or via video feed.

Meanwhile, a test event set for April 4-5 in Tokyo, a gymnastics competition, has been cancelled. Athletes and even some IOC panel members are calling for the IOC and Japanese authorities to cancel the games amidst concern for public health. Japanese soccer and rugby teams are in shutdown because of the virus, and while spring training continues for their baseball teams there is talk of delaying or cancelling their season.

The Olympics may yet go on; the plans are moving forward. It is far from a certainty, though, no matter what the current statements of the committees may say.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.