The pandemic Olympics continue to be one smooth operation.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control issued a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory for Japan due to the “very high level” of coronavirus cases in the country. But you can bet that U.S. athletes will get the A-OK to attend the Tokyo Games… assuming they actually happen.
The U.S. has Level 4 restrictions for dozens of countries due to COVID. India, France, and even Canada are all on America’s “do not travel” list, to name a few. Fortunately, none of those nations are hosting one of the largest international events of the year. Who is? Oh yeah, Japan.
Ever since the games were postponed last year, Japanese people have been wary of a 2021 Olympics in a pandemic. They’ve said so in countless polls. And as we get closer to the Games, the calls for cancellation have gotten louder. The latest survey from The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, noted that 83 percent of respondents want The Games postponed again or canceled outright. Tens of thousands of Tokyo residents have signed an anti-Olympics petition. And even Tokyo doctors have called for The Games to be canceled due to COVID-19.
Well, despite handling the coronavirus relatively better than most countries in 2020, Japan is now in the midst of its fourth wave of infection, and the government plans to extend a COVID state of emergency over Tokyo and other areas. The restrictions were originally supposed to ease on May 31. Also, the island nation is vaccinating their population at a stunningly slow rate. As of now, roughly 3.5 percent of Japan’s citizenry are fully vaccinated. To put that number in perspective, over 45 percent of eligible Americans are now fully vaccinated. Meaning we finally get to have nice things like crowds at the Garden. But at Japan’s pace, they will not be able to provide shots to all adults by the time the Olympic flame is lit on July 23. Last month, Japan’s vaccine chief Taro Kono said the country will secure enough doses for every person 16 and up by the end of September.
None of this really matters to the Tokyo organizing committee, the IOC, or their broadcasting partners like NBC — who have about a billion reasons why they want the Games to commence. There’s just too much money on the line. On Friday, IOC Vice President John Coates went so far as to say that The Games would go on even if Tokyo were in a state of emergency.
Of course, he said this virtually… and from Australia.
Japan has already barred foreign spectators for these Olympics. But if even IOC President Thomas Bach can’t go to Japan now, what makes us think that it’ll be safe for thousands of international athletes and Japanese citizens in a few weeks?