Mendoza: Dilemma grips Tokyo Olympics

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

CALLS are mounting again to cancel the Tokyo Olympics set to open this July.

Already postponed for a year, the quadrennial meet is once more facing opposition, the most vocal coming no less from the home front.

I couldn’t blame Japan’s nationals. The pandemic seems far from being beaten, with a new variant from the United Kingdom and South Africa fast gaining a foothold in more than 50 countries already.

The AP (Associated Press) reported this week that surveys conducted by the Japanese New Agency Kyodo and Japanese broadcaster TBS showed that 80 percent want the Olympics scrapped altogether — or believe it will not blast off at all on July 23. Only about 15 percent of the respondents say otherwise.

“The Japanese public is already more and more inclined to oppose the hosting of the Olympics this summer... and the perception is it is a lost cause,” Koichi Nakano, who teaches politics at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said in his e-mail to the AP.

Indeed, at the rate the Covid-19 is inflicting havoc on mankind, fears of the Olympics’ cancelation are as real as US President Donald Trump falsely clinging on to his twisted thought that Joe Biden stole the American presidential election on Nov. 3.

But a ray of hope comes from Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who assured that the Games would be “safe and secure” even as he declared a state of emergency last week for Tokyo and its surrounding areas.

Some 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes are expected to flock to Tokyo in July from 200 nations and territories. This is aside from tens of thousands of judges, coaches, officials, VIPs, sponsors, volunteers and media members flying in for the two-week Games. And, as per the organizers’ position, hundreds of thousands of fans, including those from overseas, are allowed to attend.

Already, Japan has sunk some US$25 billion into the Olympics, with domestic sponsors totaling a record $3.5 billion. A cancellation would mean a financial catastrophe for the world’s third biggest economy after the US and China.

It has boiled down actually to a choice between health and wealth — wealth here being Japan’s mammoth investments in the Games. What a dilemma.