TOKYO 2020 – WHAT MANNER OF OLYMPICS?

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In less than a month’s time, the delayed 2020 Summer Olympic Games will kick off in Tokyo, the Japanese capital. The Olympics, if they do get underway as expected, will be like no other.

Typically, the Olympics are covered by news organizations as a sporting affair first and foremost. Sports commentators and journalists fan out across the host city to cover the various. And there will be lots of that coverage when the games commence on July 23.

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But the bigger and more important story is the one related to public health. Covid 19 infections in Japan remain at stubbornly high levels — levels much higher than when the games were delayed last year. Japan has been off to a slow start vaccinating its citizens and its health care system is under stress.

One of the country’s largest newspapers, Asahi Shimbun reflected public sentiment late last month when it called for the games to be canceled altogether.

But Japan has vowed to press ahead. And so, in just a matter of weeks, tens of thousands of athletes, coaches, staff, and members of the press will descend on Tokyo for the games. This raises a multitude of questions, including whether the 2020 Olympics could be remembered more as a sporting extravaganza or as a Covid super-spreader event.

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