KT edit: Postpone the Tokyo Olympics for the safety of all

The Games must be postponed until the world comes to grips with the situation.

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Published: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 8:38 PM

The best time to act and contain the spread of the Covid-19 was probably when it was discovered in Wuhan, China, almost four months ago. But we missed that opportunity and since then the world has squandered too many days and weeks in assessing the risks. Since then we are grappling with the emergence of the virus that is taking a toll on humanity. Yet, the second best time, probably, is now and we must do all we can to protect people from further harm, especially the ones who are vulnerable due to their underlying health conditions. Efforts should be made on a war footing. Preventive care, precautions, quarantine, cancellation of events, bans on any large gatherings should be in place. Much is being done on these lines already. Several cultural and sporting events globally have been cancelled one after the other. On Sunday, Dubai called off its showpiece sporting event - the Dubai World Cup - which was scheduled to be held this Saturday.
The Euro2020, the top football leagues in the world, marathon, boxing, Formula One races, NBA, the French Open and even the major championships in golf have been postponed until further notice. The ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc on social and sporting calendars and wiped them all clean. And yet, there has been no word on the planet's biggest event in sports - the Olympics, scheduled from July 24 to August 9 this year in Japan. The International Olympic Committee and Japan have been steadfast in saying that the Games will go on, which is wrong. The Games must be postponed until the world comes to grips with the situation.
The IOC's insistence on going ahead with their initial plans could invite more trouble. The flame arrived in Japan on Friday, and on Saturday, around 50,000 people defied fears of coronavirus and queued for hours to catch a glimpse of the torch being displayed at Sendai station in Miyagi. This, at a time when the world over we are talking about social distancing, lockdown, and quarantine as the best measures to protect oneself. Japan understandably has a lot at stake in terms of the money spent, and the preparations made. The event was expected to benefit the tourism sector and boost consumer spending. Japan has invested more than $3 billion in domestic sponsorship, which is a record, and spent around $12 billion on preparations.
However, nothing justifies hosting an event of this scale at the moment. Several countries and elite athletes are right in arguing and asking for the postponement of the Games. Alternate plans should be made and shared. A sporting spectacle of this scale and gathering will lose its sheen amid the ongoing pandemic. Now it's time to rise up to the challenge and collectively take actions for the sake of one and all. Let the Games not begin as scheduled, but be postponed to another date and time when we would be able to truly focus on the spectacle and give it the attention it truly deserves.

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