Olympic Rings in Tokyo 2021
Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash

Peter Williams: Are you much bothered with the Olympics?

Peter Williams 09/07/2021

OPINION: The International Olympic Committee is an immoral beast for insisting the Tokyo games go ahead this month.

The Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony is two weeks from today, July 23rd.  It has been confirmed overnight that they will now take place without any spectators at all. It will be the weirdest Olympics of all. The supposedly great sporting show on earth will now be devoid of the atmosphere and the fun that has become part of what I believe is the most fantastic gathering of the people of the world that is ever staged. I’ve been to the Olympic Games six times to work and watch. There is nothing like them. But the reason for what will happen in Tokyo this year is obvious. The International Olympic Committee is greedy and often verges on the immoral.

Japan is now in a state of emergency because of Covid and will be until the 22nd of August. Just how that state of emergency will be enforced is questionable.  The reports today say that places where people might gather, like bars and restaurants which serve alcohol will shut down and those that don’t serve booze will close early. Japan is a densely populated nation with nearly 350 people per square kilometre. The New Zealand number is 18. So they always live close together. Not many of them are vaccinated. The chances of people getting infected would seem quite high. The chances of athletes and other visitors like officials and media getting infected would seem quite high too just because of the sheer number of people and your proximity to them. How sick you’re actually likely to get after being infected is the question with the great unknown answer.

Is anything in Japan this year actually much different to last year when the games were called off? Answer, I don’t think so. Just to put what happened in Japan yesterday into some sort of context. There were 920 new cases across the country. They have 25 times our population so that’s the equivalent of 36 new cases in this country. Imagine what would happen in this country if we had 36 cases reported in one day. The gates would be shut, the shops would be shut and the country would be slammed straight into a level four lockdown.

So that’s what the International Olympic Committee has forced on Japan. Would we allow the Olympic Games to happen in this country with that level of Covid in the community? I would have thought most definitely not. What if they insisted? Well I guess we just would not have let athletes and officials into the country. Japan, as an island nation, could have done the same but decided it could not afford to do that.

The Japanese government and the Japanese people don’t want the games either. The latest poll on this came out on Monday, saying that 83 percent of the Japanese people don’t want the Olympics to go ahead. 83 percent! That number split about evenly between cancelling them completely and delaying them again. But the IOC is enforcing its right to hold them because of their contract with Tokyo. And the most obscene part of all is that the IOC will use Japan’s investment in infrastructure and stadiums, which is around 15 billion dollars, to take all the money from the lucrative TV rights contracts from all around the world, and the host city, which relies on ticket sales for the majority of its income, will now get nothing from that revenue source. The whole thing is shambolic and immoral.

But sadly, it’s not the first time the IOC has been front and centre of such a situation. So knowing what you know about this year’s Olympic Games, knowing that there won’t be any spectators, knowing that Tokyo and its people are very reluctant hosts, will you bother watching much? Are you much interested in the games now? But what do you feel about the athletes for whom this event is the pinnacle of their careers, the time that they have spent their sporting lives preparing for? And would it bother you if the Olympics were called off, even at this late stage?

Catch Peter Williams every weekday from 9am on Magic Talk.