Hold your breath, Olympics fans — we may not get to see the Games just yet.
The Tokyo Olympic Games, set to begin on Friday, could be cancelled last minute due to rising coronavirus cases, according to Toshiro Muto, the Games’ chief.
Discussion are still ongoing about what will happen as it’s impossible to know what will happen with COVID-19 infections at the Games. However, Tokyo has already declared a state of emergency as cases have shot up recently. Within the last month, there have been 67 cases accredited to the Olympics alone.
“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases,” Muto said in a news conference.”So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases.
“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”
Rising cases aren’t the only issue the Tokyo Games are facing. Last month, an estimated 10,000 unpaid volunteers told organizers they would no longer participate in the events. Many dropped out due to fears of contracting coronavirus. Currently, only 22% of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated.
And while the International Olympic Committee believes that at least 80 percent of athletes and residents of Olympic Village are fully vaccinated, there have been a handful of cases already of athletes who have tested positive for the virus. Some athletes are self-quarantining in hopes of still competing, while others have already dropped out of the events completely.
Additionally, Japan has banned all spectators from attending events for this year’s Games. Instead, athletes will compete on the biggest stage in the world to a virtual, silent audience.
The Olympics are a time for the world to come together and compete on an equal playing field, regardless of geography and GDP. Last year, the world had to skip the Games for the safety of athletes while hoping it would be good to go by this summer. Now, with all the drama surrounding the Games, we have to wonder if this is a sign we should have just waited one more year.