Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst

Published on June 14th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Following the one year postponement, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will go on as rescheduled, but the 32nd Olympiad will be like none other. No foreign fans, and possibly no fans at all. Lots of mobility restrictions for athletes, organizers, and media.

While typically an opportunity to showcase a region, the welcome mat will not be rolled out. Polling shows strong resentment among the Japanese. Their pandemic recovery has been slow, and they’d prefer to focus on that.

Plan on the broadcast showing little of the angst as NBC and the others are desperate to recover their investment, while the International Olympic Committee is eager for it to all be puppies and dandelions. Watching what they don’t show will be part of the show.

But it’s hard to imagine that local protests won’t seek exposure, particularly since the Japanese government is considering placing Tokyo under a quasi-state of emergency during the Olympics, given that a number of health experts have expressed concern over a potential spike in COVID-19 cases.

The Olympics are due to begin on July 23, but public fears persist about a surge of coronavirus infections triggered by an influx of people into the Japanese capital and driven by more contagious variants. What’s not to like?

A British medical journal has called for a “global conversation” about what to do with the Tokyo Olympics set to open next month amid the coronavirus pandemic, while criticizing global health organizations for being largely silent on the topic.

In an editorial on June 12, The Lancet said the silence by the World Health Organization and other major health bodies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a “deflection of responsibility” as the Olympics and the Paralympics could lead to spreading the virus in Japan and other countries.

The editorial stated that not making vaccinations mandatory and mixing about 15,000 athletes, as well as officials, support staff and journalists from around the world could seed new outbreaks when the participants return home.

“The games might also adversely affect the COVID-19 situation within Japan,” the journal warned.

A group of infectious disease experts, including Shigeru Omi, head of a Japanese government subcommittee on the virus, is expected to disclose this week the various health risks if the Olympics take place as scheduled.

With any luck it is all pre-Games hysteria, not unlike four years, er, five years ago when water pollution, Zika virus, and violence were the headlines prior to Rio 2016. One can only hope…

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6
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

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021

Details: https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/schedule/olympic/

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