Star comment: Fingers crossed for Tokyo Olympics

The notion that a million delegates from around the world could fly into Tokyo for the Olympics without there being significant problems could only ever be for the birds.

A worker paints Olympic rings at the finish line of the BMX racing track as preparations continue for the 2020 Summer Olympics
A worker paints Olympic rings at the finish line of the BMX racing track as preparations continue for the 2020 Summer Olympics

And so as athletes, delegates and the great and good fly into Japan the number of Covid-19 start to rise. Things will inevitably get worse before they get better. Not without reason, some pundits are already forecasting disaster for the Olympics.

Having trained for five long years, there will be a bonfire of hopes and ambition as those who might have medalled find themselves unable to compete. Similarly, unlikely heroes will emerge as the impossible becomes possible for some.

We can only hope the Olympics can get through relatively unscathed and remains a valid competition. The fear is, though, the infections will spread through the Olympic village, affecting competitions and the whole exercise ending up in farce. The Village is notable for the manner in which fit young athletes from around the world mix and have fun. This time it is all about safety bubbles.

Most will feel sorry for the Japanese. They won the Olympics and were hoping a huge tourism boom would help fund its cost. Now even Toyota, one of its main sponsors, is looking to disassociate itself and there have been demonstrations on the streets. The Japanese public do not want the Games to take place, yet the nation is locked into contracts with the Olympic movement and the event is impossible to cancel.

One wonder is why Japan, one of the world’s most advanced countries, has only a 20 per cent vaccination rate. With the Games coming it would have been common sense to do everything in its power to jab the whole population so that the kind of pressure it is now under would have been eased.

Yet is it unfair and impossible to blame Japan for the mess in which it finds itself. Variants from around the world are on aircraft right now and the public are rightly concerned. The viewing public will see a very different event, too, largely devoid of the spectators that make the Games so special.

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