The Olympic rings on the man-made island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, Japan on February 10, 2021.

The health argument

Allowing the influx of nearly a million people (including the 900,000 or so foreign spectators who have already purchased a ticket, as well as the athletes, coaches and the media) is to take the risk of a explosion of contaminations in the Archipelago, so far rather spared by the pandemic – even if a state of emergency was declared in several regions at the beginning of January. All the more so since the vaccination campaign, which
started only in mid-February, has already fallen behind.

The political argument

A poll, published on March 3 by the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shinbun, shows that 77% of Japanese are hostile to opening the Olympics to foreign audiences. While the population seems to resign themselves to the holding of the competition, after being very opposed to it, it will be difficult for the government – which is absolutely keen on it taking place – to impose such a welcome on it. Especially since it is already widely criticized for its management of the epidemic.

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The “less worse” argument

With 206 nations represented, the absence of a foreign audience “Not call into question universality”, believes sports sociologist Eric Monnin, interviewed by The cross. According to him, the Games could even be a remedy for the “Gloom”. And more than 4 million tickets have already been sold in Japan. What to find a little of the atmosphere that usually reigns in the Olympic spans and send some encouragement to the athletes.

The health counter-argument

The imposition of strict health measures could make it possible to limit the risks of the spread of the virus, while vaccination will have made great progress. In December 2020, a report from the organizing committee had also outlined some of them to allow a ” large number “ foreign visitors to attend the Games: obligation to present a negative test at the entrance, to download a tracking application and prohibition… to shout.

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The political counter-argument

Giving up on hosting foreign audiences would cost Japan much of the 90 billion yen (771 million euros) the organizing committee hoped to get from ticket sales. The government would thus deprive itself of a welcome financial windfall when the economy is at its worst. And a good opportunity (the only one?) To cushion the price of the most expensive Summer Olympics in history, with an overall announced cost of 13 billion euros.

The “less worse” counter-argument

Can we imagine the Olympics without the intercultural turmoil dear to Pierre de Coubertin? Yet this is the sad promise of this edition: stadiums that ring hollow and a meager audience, committed to the cause of the host country. Under these conditions, perhaps it would be better to postpone it again, hoping that 2022 offers the “Light at the end of the tunnel”, promised by the IOC Vice-President in September 2020. Or renounce it, as in 1916 and 1940.

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