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How badly will Coronavirus affect the Tokyo Olympics 2020?

A lot of sporting events are being canceled in Japan due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, and the Olympics 2020 might just be one– stakeholders are worried.


The 2020 Tokyo Olympics for this summer is less than five months out, and most people would like to know what the contingency plan as a result of the global outbreak of COVOID-19 or Coronavirus would be. Time seems to be working for and against Tokyo Olympics 2020.

With an estimated number of 600,000 tourists from across the globe ready to storm Tokyo for the Games this year– which does not even begin to include the millions of Japanese who will be coming in their numbers. Speculations are being raised that the virus, COVOID-19, will penetrate the biggest sporting event of the year. The estimated number of Japanese attendees and tourists does not also include the 11,000 sporting athletes from over 200 nations.

There have been reported cases of at least one Coronavirus victim from more than 70 countries since its first appearance in Wuhan, China, in December. Anything can happen in the space of 5 months, and since we are hoping for the best, it would be too early to make any drastic decisions concerning the Olympic games, health experts and organizations keeping an eye on the situation also concur.

The uncertainty of the Coronavirus is what led to the panic associated with it in the first place, says Dr. Brian McCloskey, who in 2012 London Olympics, led the public health planning. Dr. Brian McCloskey said in an interview that, “The Olympics have never been canceled because of an issue like this previously,” McCloskey told “We are seeing various sporting events and other big gatherings being canceled at the moment. That’s primarily because of the degree of uncertainty. I think that people are nervous because they don’t know what’s happening. My view is that there is no need to worry about the Olympics.”

As the Tokyo Olympics 2020 draws nearer, officials and organizers are keeping one eye open for outbreaks, especially in the general public living in the area as well as athletes, spectators, and visitors. According to McCloskey, the city is already using enhanced monitoring systems that will be functional throughout the Games. As of Tuesday, close to 90,000 people have been infected by the Coronavirus around the world, with at least 3,100 recorded deaths, mainly in China.

The global Risk status was recently updated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to “Very high” on Friday. Officials of the World Health Organisation are advising organizers of the Olympics on the outbreak. Head of World Health Organisation (WHO) health emergency program Dr. Mike Ryan had spoken to reporters on February 27 saying that to the best of his “understanding, no decision has or will be taken in the near term regarding the future of the Olympics.” There isn’t adequate information regarding the Coronavirus; hence, it is difficult to tell what might occur months from now.

Holy Cross Professor Victor A. Matheson, who knows mega-events like the Olympics, had said that it is unprecedented that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has to deal with such an outbreak. There have been some cases in history where the Olympics had to either be canceled or moved out because of a crisis at hand. Will the Tokyo Olympics 2020 be any different?

In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Olympics had to be canceled because of the ongoing war. In 1919, as a result of influenza, the Stanley Cup was canceled. The Women’s FIFA World Cup had to be moved out into the U.S from China due to SARS in 2003. And in 2002, the Super Bowl was pushed back to a week in the 9/11 aftermath.

Professor Matheson said in a report that, “All of these solutions that people are talking about or potential things that could happen with the Olympics, we’ve seen all of these at some point in history related to other sporting events,” Matheson added that, “The Olympics today is so much bigger than any other event that altering it in any way would be something of monumental scale.”

The daily regression and progression of the Coronavirus outbreak are paramount to any decision the Games organizers would settle for. Some of the remaining options on the table for the organizers, according to Professor Matheson, are that; the Games either be moved from Tokyo to a safer location or the Games be canceled.

However, postponing the Games by probably a year would seem a more logical move.


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