Japanese PM Abe Insists Summer Games Will Take Place After President Trump Suggests Postponement - By Elizabeth Jeneault - J-Pop Exchange Information & Views
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Japanese PM Abe Insists Summer Games Will Take Place After President Trump Suggests Postponement

By Elizabeth Jeneault for The J-Pop Exchange

As COVID-19 continues to spread and stretch its way across the globe and including in the United States, billion-dollar sports leagues have been brought to a grinding halt. Public gatherings of over a certain size have been banned in the US, and there are restrictions blocking travel. Some entire countries are under lockdown. Social distancing is being highly encouraged no matter where you live, and people are hunkering down as they self-quarantine and look to prevent others from getting sick.

The global coronavirus pandemic has called so much into question and with all the cancelations already, the future of any large event seems very much uncertain. With that being said, there are many people who are wondering whether the 2020 Olympics will still take place this summer in Tokyo as planned.

While organizers have repeatedly said that Tokyo 2020 will continue and still be held from July 24 to August 9, athletes, health experts, and other officials have called for the Summer Games to be postponed. Even United States President Donald Trump made that suggestion recently.

"I just can't see having no people there. In other words, not allowing people," President Trump said last week at the White House. "Maybe, and this is just my idea, maybe they postpone it for a year.”

In response, the International Olympic Committee said at the end of last week that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will “absolutely not” be postponed.

“The IOC and the organizing committee are not considering cancellation or postponement—absolutely not at all,” said Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Olympic minister.

Over the weekend, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also reaffirmed that position. Even as Greece canceled its leg of the Olympic torch relay due to concerns over the coronavirus, Abe stood firm on the Games taking place from July 24 to August 9.

“We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned,” said Abe at a news conference Saturday in Tokyo.

He did, however, say the IOC would have the final decision as to whether Tokyo 2020 takes place.

Dick Pound, a senior member of the IOC, told CNN the IOC is in “daily if not hourly” contact with the World Heath Organization about the 2020 Games. While Pound said the IOC is not even close to making any decisions right now about postponing or canceling the 2020 Games, he did admit officials would have to listen to public health authorities if those authorities made it clear the Games can’t occur.

While the organization has dealt with many crises while hosting recent Olympics (like the Zika Virus), COVID-19 is unlike any other obstacle the IOC has faced. Since it’s a respiratory illness, it can be easily spread. With events scheduled to take place in large stadiums and athletes set to stay in tight quarters together, infectious disease experts worry it’d be the perfect environment for the virus to rapidly spread.

The unfortunate reality is any postponement or cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 Games would serve as a massive blow to Japan’s economy.

The Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay is scheduled to begin in Fukushima on March 26. Abe said he expects to go to that.

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