Tokyo 2020: Let the show go on
Published on March 5th, 2020
In a letter from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach directed toward athletes concerned about the prospect of cancelling or postponing this year’s Olympic Games because of the coronavirus, he sought to calm nerves.
But the truth is, the outbreak is bound to get worse before it gets better, and no one can say with confidence when it will get better. Sure, more people die from the flu, but the uncertainty with COVID-19 is the wild card. No one knows how far it will spread and how many deaths it will cause.
The concern with Tokyo 2020 is the mass of people from around the world coming together, so why not eliminate the spectators? With something like 11,000 athletes competing, they aren’t nearly the issue as compared with an estimated 600,000 tourists from around the world set to descend upon Tokyo.
As the Olympic Games has become a “made for television” event, with the Rio 2016 Olympics attracting 3.6 billion viewers, postponing or cancelling the 2020 Games to protect 2/10000 of interested parties requires a better solution… like not allowing spectators.
If push comes to shove, the IOC will remember that 73% of their income is from broadcast rights, and could follow the lead of the Italian government which has decreed that all sporting events in Italy will take place without fans present for at least the next month due to the virus outbreak in the country.
Italy is the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak. More than 100 people have died and more than 3,000 have been infected with COVID-19.
The Italian government hopes this action will help contain the spread of the virus, with all sporting events throughout the country taking place without fans present until April 3. Schools and universities have been ordered to close until March 15.
Premier Giuseppe Conte said banning crowds at sporting events would help “prevent further opportunities of infection.”
Here’s the message that Bach sent to the athletes:
As an Olympian myself, I know how you feel these days. You want to focus on competition and training, and you do not want to be distracted from your preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is a major concern for all of us. It goes without saying that it was also a major subject of discussion of the IOC Executive Board in the past two days.
As a result of the many consultations we had and are having with the World Health Organization (WHO), with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, with the Tokyo Metropolitan government, the Japanese government and many authorities around the world, in particular the Chinese, I can assure you that the IOC is fully committed to successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, starting 24 July. These regular consultations are continuing so that we can address any new developments.
Of course, we know that the ongoing Olympic qualification is challenging and that it requires a lot of flexibility from you, your National Olympic Committee (NOC) and your International Federation (IF). Some of you had to change your competition schedule, training and travel plans because of venue changes and travel restrictions. I want to personally thank you for all this flexibility and solidarity, which is the true Olympic spirit.
Rest assured that the IOC continues to work hard with the NOCs and the IFs to find solutions for these challenges and to ensure a fair Olympic qualification under these circumstances. We will continue to receive updates on a daily basis and to follow the advice of WHO, which is the leading United Nations agency on health issues.
We will provide you with this reliable first-hand information on your dedicated platform, Athlete365. This will allow you to better adapt to the situation in all your preparations leading up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In this respect it is one of the many initiatives of the IOC to support you on and off the field of play, be it directly and/or through your NOC and your IF. Please make use of all these benefits and resources available to you. I also encourage you to stay in close contact with your respective athletes’ representatives.
I hope that with all this support you can fully concentrate on your Olympic preparations. Please go ahead with “full steam”. Then we, the Olympic community, can once more unite the whole world in a peaceful competition. This is what makes the Olympic Games so unique and you, as the main actors of this Olympic community, will inspire billions of people around the globe.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and wishing you all the very best.
TOKYO 2020 Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Olympic schedule: July 24 – Aug 9
Sailing schedule: July 26 – Aug 6