Letter: Tokyo Games could be a Covid super-broadcaster
US President Joe Biden has made it clear that democracy should prevail over autocracy. However, a kind of autocracy is emerging in the free world. I call this “Olympic autocracy”.
A few weeks before the Tokyo Olympics, polls show that some 80 percent of Japanese want the event to be canceled or postponed (“Japan’s big Olympic bet”, Opinion, May 10).
A healthcare outage due to Covid-19 is underway, with a few percent of the population vaccinated. On May 24, the US State Department issued its highest travel advisory – to avoid Japan due to “very high” levels of Covid-19.
Despite such a dire situation, senior officials from all organizations related to the Olympics are continuing with plans for this massive event.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said he had no reason to believe the Tokyo games would not open on July 23.
John Coates, IOC Vice President, said the Olympics would go ahead even if the state of emergency was in effect in Japan. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and other Japanese leaders repeat the mantra, calling for a “safe and secure Olympics”.
The games could be played safely in locations remote from the rest of society, by fully vaccinated athletes and staff. However, this would reduce the already scarce medical resources, which could otherwise be spent on treating residents.
This is what I mean by Olympic autocracy. If democracy is to prevail, Japanese leaders should address these concerns squarely.
Considerable efforts have been made to prepare for the games. But what will be the consequences for this largely unvaccinated society, which houses some 16,000 athletes and 80,000 supervisory staff, including the media? It is a matter of life and death for the Japanese people.
It is inconceivable that the Olympics could contribute to a significant increase in new cases and deaths. Nobody wants to see this.
I therefore urge leaders to respond directly to public concerns. After all, it is the general public that is, in the broad sense, the host of the Olympics.
Professor Tatsuo Masuda
Kaishi Vocational University