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Opinion: Olympic pride versus the pandemic — reviewing the decision to continue the Tokyo games

As the games begin, questions remain regarding the COVID-19 situation in Tokyo
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ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY
ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY

As the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games begin, the question remains: how will the games continue in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, given the spike in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo within the past months? Even despite this, the world still anxiously waits for the opportunity to watch the Olympics once again.

For some, to compete in the Olympics would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Others may see it as a chance to return and make their mark on the world stage. For the general public, it is a global experience that comes only once every few years where every nation can raise their flag and cheer on their country with pride. This past year, the planning that has gone into the Tokyo Olympics has been different — we’ve had to battle the global COVID-19 pandemic and all of the problems associated with it regarding the safety of athletes and fans during sporting events.

The decision-making for these games has been done by the government of Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who pushed the 2020 games to 2021 and have been trying to find a solution to continue the games through a global pandemic. 

After postponing the Tokyo Olympics for a year, the decision to move forward with the games this year is important from a business standpoint — there are local sponsors who rely on fans of the games visiting Tokyo to drum up business. From a health and safety standpoint though, given the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, to continue with the Olympics without causing a rise in COVID-19 cases will be nearly impossible. With 79,000 people flying into Tokyo from around the world, even if all participants follow all the regulations and take proper precautions, there is no way to continue the games without any cases of COVID-19. 

While not everyone is happy with the decision to allow the Olympics to proceed, proper restrictions have been put in place to limit the spread of the virus and continue the games as safely as possible. 

The decision to continue the Tokyo Olympics came down to this — a balance between business and safety. Even though they may not be able to eliminate the dangers of COVID-19 entirely, the organizing committee seems to be paying attention to safety since it stated that it will cancel the games if cases start to rise uncontrollably. 

Now, after a year-long wait, the games are finally here, and the world is witnessing a historical event. For the athletes participating in the games, it will be an event they will remember for the rest of their lives.