Tokyo 2021 – Off Again, On Again, Off Again?

                       by David Parmer /Tokyo

Just when you thought it was safe to make plans for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it isn’t– or maybe it is. Mid-April 2021 and the bottom line is nobody really knows what will happen.

The problem? The global COVID 19 pandemic still rages. And Japan faces a fourth wave of infections. Japan’s rate of vaccination is S-L-O-W. A very small percentage of the population has been vaccinated or even tested as of mid-April 2021. This does not bode well for the Olympics happening in less than 100 days.

The IOC and Japan Inc. are ready to hold the Olympics. However, most Japanese favor cancelling the 2021 games, and a recent Kyodo news poll supports this. Apparently Japan’s medical community as well does not support the games.

It is not as if the Tokyo Organizing Committee is asleep at the wheel. They are not: their website shows extensive plans to have a safe event. “Playbooks” are downloadable for sponsors, competitors, and journalists laying out a stringent set of guidelines for how to conduct themselves to prevent the spread of COVID 19 during the games. But it seems the cards are stacked against them.

What could turn this situation around? Perhaps a massive and unprecedented drive to get the majority of the population tested and vaccinated. Given enough time, the Japanese could do this. But to move the bureaucracy and to inspire people to cooperate would require the type of dynamic thinking and dynamic leadership that is not native to the Japanese mindset. Given time, Japan could do it. But there is just not enough time, and maybe more importantly, enough will to get it done.

Olympics? See you in Beijing next year. Maybe.

Kyodo News Poll on Vaccine and Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Playbooks

Photo: IOC Facebook Page