The Olympics Must Go Ahead – Conservative Article
The Olympic Games is a cross-cultural event. Sport is a language that is universally spoken. It has the ability to bring people together like nothing else. Last year, another global event happened, and that was the pandemic. It forced the Olympics to be postponed – quite reasonably so. Now, a year later, the pandemic threatens to postpone the Olympics yet again. Japan is still under lockdown measures and its public want the games to be stopped again.
These concerns are valid and stem from several places. COVID cases are rising in Tokoyo, where the majority of the events will be held. The Japanese government only recently lifted the state of emergency in the prefecture and has implemented a quasi-state of emergency in its stead. This would run until 11 July, just 12 days before the Games are set to begin.
However, a rise in infections means that this state could be extended. Some sources even say a full state of emergency could be reinstated. Medical experts have cautioned that the Games could ‘unleash another wave of infections’. Polls show that people oppose the Olympics taking place, with one stating 63% of people don’t want the games to take place.
Japan’s sluggish vaccination programme has been cited as another reason. Due to the fact that the Japanese only started vaccinating their population in February, they haven’t vaccinated much of their population. Other problems plagued their progress, with a doctor shortage and a flawed booking system, meaning that only little more than 8% of its population have been fully vaccinated (as of 28 June). However, there is cause for optimism. Elderly people now account for the lowest percentage of infections, showing that the vaccine is working.
Finally, another cause of concern is the effect that the UEFA European Football Championship tournament (the Euros) has had on Europe. The WHO recorded a 10% increase in case numbers in the Europe region, attributed to not only the relaxation of social distancing measures but also to the moving of people to see the Euros. This could happen to Japan, as it admits 90,000 athletes, journalists, and other Olympic workers into the country.
However, despite these concerns, the games must go ahead.
Firstly, the games are needed now more than ever. They have an important effect on the world, unifying it behind sport. People from all different walks of life, from all over the world, are glued to the television, seeing what their nation can achieve. It also has a unifying effect on the host country, bringing people behind their flag.
And most importantly, it allows some escape from the pandemic. That is part of the beauty of the Euros, it has renewed hope. Just look at the reactions across England when they beat Ukraine 4-0.
Moving to the Euros, the COVID cases attributed to them are not likely to be repeated in Japan. Firstly, the amount of moving people will have to do is minimal. There is only one host country, requiring much less travel from participants, meaning much less chance of disease spread. Furthermore, international fans are already banned from watching the games, as they were the true cause of the rise in cases. Olympic teams will be highly regulated, taking tests often and staying in more restrictive bubbles. There would be no visits to bars, karaokes or the Imperial Palace, thus minimising spread. It is clear that Olympians will be kept away from local communities, which allows for games to go ahead safely.
Domestic fans would not drive cases either. Only a maximum of 10,000 fans will be permitted at each event, however, this could be cut to 5,000 or even none. This is much less than those allowed to attend Euro games, with the 60,000 fans going to be at the Euro semi-finals. And if fears of COVID stem from domestic fans attending, then this is overblown. Proof of vaccination will be required for entry, reducing spread. And the number of fans can be cut.
Cancelling the games also will have an effect on the athletes. All of them put in a huge amount of training and effort to be at their peak for the games, and a complete cancellation would mean all of this would be for nothing. 70% of athletes only get one chance to compete in the games, meaning that if these games are stopped many will miss out on their chance to shine. Missing out on such an event would be devastating.
And while Japan’s vaccinations are low, this is not the case for the Olympic teams. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that 80% of athletes will be vaccinated for the games, meaning that the athletes will be protected against COVID, and thus protecting the Japanese health system. It won’t be business as usual for the athletes either, as there will not be trips to bars or the Imperial Palace. The teams will no doubt be managed with extra scrutiny and extra health precautions, to help minimise the spread.
There are financial concerns with not hosting the Olympics either. The IOC makes 70% of its money from broadcasting rights, and 18% from sponsorship. If these games aren’t held, then the financial loss could impact future Olympic Games, which would be devastating. Japan would also lose all the investment it made into the Olympic infrastructure, wasting huge amounts of money.
While the Japanese concerns are valid, they do not warrant the cancellation. It is clear the athletes will be protected from COVID, protecting the local communities at the same time. The Japanese government should be working on promoting the games, not putting them down.
Write by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
If done well, the Olympics should go ahead – A Liberal response
As I have come to expect, Kieran has written a fantastic article once again. Most of you who have read my articles this last year know I have been heavily pro-lockdown. However, Kieran has done a fantastic job of convincing me that perhaps the games this year should go ahead.
The main factor that has convinced me is Japan’s plan to have no spectators. We saw this work quite successfully with the return of sports over the last year. With no fans, you remove a lot of the risk that comes. Now, you can check staff, participants and anyone else involved with less chance of risk. There will also be no spectators travelling into the country, increasing the chance of covid variants spreading from country to country.
I do also think that in times that are as hard as these, sport is fantastic to raise our spirits. Sport is there to distract you from what is going on in your own life. I personally think lockdown will be returning and we are stupid to ignore it. In the next couple of months when covid cases rise, deaths increase and self-isolation reaches its peak, we will need sport more than ever.
Finally, I think Japan needs it. It has faced a lot of the brunt from COVID-19. It has and is still very much struggling. Knowing that some sort of normality is returning to their country, even if it is minor, will certainly help their country financially and mentally.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
Time for the bidding system to go? – A Labour Response
Kieran has written a brilliant article arguing the case for the Tokyo Olympics to go ahead. He accurately notes how the majority of the Japanese public are against the Olympics going ahead. This sentiment is due to a number of concerns, including of course, coronavirus, corruption allegations, and the very high cost of hosting an Olympic Games.
There have been increased calls for a move to a “one city” model of the Olympics, getting rid of the bidding process altogether. Olympics are infamously not cost-effective, with countries incurring far more debt than the games bring in. For example, it took Montreal three decades to pay off the debt it incurred by hosting the 1976 Olympic games. This is likely to be worse for Japan this year, who have already spent $15.4 billion preparing for the Olympics. This high cost, coupled with the lack of international tourists due to Coronavirus, will likely make the games one of the least cost-effective yet.
However, one important note Kieran fails to mention, is that cancellation is not really an option for Japan. At this point in time, if Japan were to cancel their contract with the International Olympic Committee to host the games, then “by and large”, the losses would fall on the Japanese organising committee. Although they have insurance, this would only cover “concrete expenses”, not more indirect costs such as “investments into hotels and restaurants”, in anticipation of tourists.
Written by Labour Deputy Chief, Brian Byrne