Plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


Alice Xie, Staff Writer

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was one of the most anticipated events of the year. In the midst of the pandemic, this event would have shown unity among all countries and represented a force fighting the pandemic. But due to the severity of the disease, the 2020 Olympics were canceled and postponed to the summer of 2021. This decision wasn’t too surprising, but many had hoped that the Games would continue as planned. 


When asked whether or not the Olympics should be held, Coach Garcia, one of the Athletic Directors at West Ranch, said, “Personally, I definitely hope they go on, because I’m looking forward to seeing them. I think it’s going to be a good relief for a lot of people to kind of tune out all the negative and turn it into something positive.”


As of now, it seems the Olympic Committee is at a stalemate. The Olympic Games must take place in 2021, because further postponement would coincide with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But, if the Games do proceed as planned, there is a heavy chance that the pandemic will interfere with the events. Even though Japan has maintained strict border control and laws enforcing masks, the country still won’t be able to provide vaccines to the public until mid-March, according to the Japanese Travel Guide. So, do the pros of hosting the Olympics outweigh the cons and risks?


“I think they should continue as long as all the precautions are in place. What I mean by that is the testing, and the social distancing,” Coach Holen, a PE coach at West Ranch, explained. 


Further postponement of the Olympics would be a huge loss of face, especially with the Beijing Olympics coming up, which will almost certainly go ahead as planned. And not to mention, the infrastructure of the Games cannot be maintained for too long of a period. When speaking to TIME magazine, Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said, “All this infrastructure has legacy. The Olympic Village will be turned into apartments for the population of Tokyo, for instance.” It would cost Tokyo time, money, and effort to maintain the pristine arenas and stadiums, so the longer the wait, the more Japan puts into the Games. So far, TIME magazine has estimated that the total cost of the postponement of the Games has amounted to about 2.8 billion, so trying to cancel the games or push them back even further would increase the cost again.


There is also the question of the health and safety of potential spectators and athletes. Tokyo is one of the world’s most crowded cities, and trying to keep thousands of people in one small area all free of the coronavirus seems like a near impossible feat. According to TIME magazine, “testing, masks, and social distancing will be the bedrock [for the Games] but organizers will not yet explain entry requirements for Japan, whether vaccinations will be mandatory, how many spectators allowed into stadia, if the Olympic Village will be sequestered into bubbles, live conferences held and so on”. Tokyo will need to be able to sort things out in order to maintain a sense of normalcy and safety during the Olympics.


Athletes are particularly worried about the decision of whether or not the Olympics will go on. Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, told TIME that “the preparation of athletes has started already, and for some of them, it would be too long to be prepared.” And such is true. Many athletes have trained for years in preparation for the 2020 Olympics, and if the Games were further postponed or canceled, many athletes would miss their best chance at competing to their fullest extent. 


Coach Garcia explained that “For some Olympians like gymnasts and runners, their peak is late twenties or thirties, and even though they’re young in society, in athletics they might be up there in age. And since the games only happen every four years, that’s another four years of training or waiting and so many things can happen in between them.”


Reporters also won’t be as interactive. Game coverage and commentators will all be broadcasted online. According to the Olympic website, there will be “more coverage in different formats, with the needs of social media and digital outlets high on the agenda. For instance, Content+, a web-based platform primarily dedicated to short-form and digital content, will be far more prominent in Tokyo than ever before.” The Olympic Broadcasting Services will be integrating new technological advances, maybe even virtual reality, to help make up for the lack of the in-person atmosphere.


Not to mention, the spirit of the Games won’t be the same if the threat of an outbreak lingers. The Olympics are a symbolic event that shows friendship among all countries, and if athletes and coaches are required to maintain social distancing, the Olympics would lose that aspect of international unity. 


“I think in general the Olympics always sends a good message of competition and unity and brings people together to share cultures and share differences and get to know each other, so I think if ever there was a time we needed that message, now’s the time,” Coach Garcia stated.


Between the COVID risk, cost, and time pressure of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the situation is still up in the air. Should the games continue as planned, should they be further postponed, or should they be cancelled altogether? In the midst of the pandemic, the Olympics could provide a light of hope and a force for change, proving to the world that people from all across the globe have come together to defeat the virus.


Coach Holen ended the interview by adding, “I think that we as people not in the sport, should definitely support it, to support our country and what the Olympics stand for: the unity of the world.”