The Tokyo Olympics is just around the corner; however, it might be one of the most disappointing Olympics of all times. Why? The game has set a limited numbers of spectators and there are a lot of rules and restrictions.

It’s something of tradition for protestors in Olympics host countries to oppose the upcoming spectacle. But soon, the Tokyo Olympics are almost certain to take place despite opposition from Japanese doctors, public health experts and most of its citizens. A turnabout from polls a few months ago showed that 60 to 80 percent of the Japanese public wanted the game cancelled or postponed. The cause of cancelling the game is not an absurd one, in fact, it is quite reasonable. Many protestors rallied together to protest against the decision to go ahead with the games.

60 to 80 percent of the Japanese public wanted the game cancelled or postponed.
60 to 80 percent of the Japanese public wanted the game cancelled or postponed.

Jun Oenoki, a leading member of the ‘Cancel the 2020 Olympic Disaster’ group told South China Morning Post that while most Japanese were elated when Tokyo was announced as host of the 2020 Games, not all are thrilled about the news. Citing numerous examples in Olympics history about how hosting the Games have brought about financial, ecological and political burden for cities. And that was before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world.

Another reason for calling cancellation or postponement of the Olympics is none other that Covid. In mid-May, there was an average of more than 900 new cases a day in Tokyo, but the number has since fallen to below 400 a day. The concerns with the Covid cases, plus only about 7 per cent of Japanese are fully vaccinated is worrying to citizens and health officials should the Games go ahead as scheduled, while inviting tens of thousands of athletes, officials and journalists from the 206 participating nations. 

So, even though there’s a new Covid strain emerging and the public taking to the streets to voice their concerns over the green light of the Games, why are the Olympics still happening?  An article by The New York Times breaks down the numbers and the reason behind it all.

  1. $15.4 billion investment.  The figure, a record for Olympic budgets, has increased $3 billion in the past year alone.
  2. $4 billion of television rights income. That is the amount that the International Olympic Committee have to refund if the Olympics are not held. 
  3. $1.25 billion. In March 2020, NBC Universal, which holds the U.S. broadcast rights to the Games, announced it had sold $1.25 billion in national advertising for the Tokyo Olympics. That exceeded the amount sold for the 2016 Rio Olympics, which had generated $1.62 billion in total revenue for the company and $250 million in profits.
  4. $549 million ‘solidarity’ and other payments. The $549 million is distributed to so called ‘solidarity’ and other payments to national Olympic committees large and small.
  5. 15,500 athletes. The postponement of the Olympics also means athletes postponing their lives for another year. About 11,100 Olympics and 4,400 Paralympics are eager for the Games to finally take place after it was being put on hold for a year due to the pandemic.
  6. 37 per cent. That is the favourability rating for Japan’s prime minister, where should he decided to cancel the Games, he will be in politically deep waters. For Yoshihide Suga, pulling off a successful Olympics will in return offer a huge political upside. On the contrary, it will risk public health that might cost lives and plunge Japan’s economy.

There is still a month to go before the Olympics start, so whether the Japanese government will take their stance in cancelling or further postponing the Games is still yet to be known. However, one thing for sure, there will be no ‘winner’ regardless of how this turn out eventually.