The real possibility of cancelling the Olympics is under consideration |
The International Olympic Committee’s president has stated that if the Tokyo Games are not held in 2021, they will be cancelled. Why?
Although news of the postponement to July 2021 was announced in March, it is now that the question is being taken more seriously, putting in doubt the holding of the event on the rescheduled date – as no COVID-19 vaccine has appeared to slow the pandemic which continues to expand in several nations, including the United States, Brazil and Chile, and the World Health Organization warns of over-confidence where the numbers of cases are decreasing.
Behind this elitist sports debate is a true dance of millions. Twenty-one years ago, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, expressed how the method of awarding the venue for an event of this kind was being shaped exponentially and progressively, by the fact that “a country with more money and offers more has a chance.”
It is estimated, for example, that the cost of the Tokyo Games will be 12 billion euros, including investments made by the host city (5.037 billion), the organizing committee (5.087 billion), and the central government (1.265 billion).
A further postponement would mean even greater figures. Remember that Tokyo-2020 was destined to become the largest sports event in history, with preparatory costs of some $25 billion, while Japanese and other international companies were looking at more than $3.1 billion. Economists at Nomura, Japan’s largest brokerage firm, predict that cancellation of the Games would undermine Japanese consumer confidence, as well as deprive the country of two billion euros in revenue from spectators arriving from abroad.
Among the concerns behind the statement by Thomas Bach, head of the international Olympic body, must also be the number of people indirectly employed. An event like this involves 3,000 to 5,000 workers, so to continue longer, given the possibility of further rescheduling, could be expensive.
In addition to the economic aspect, there are sporting criteria, which have already had a significant impact on the international calendar, including issues around eligibility and age, in disciplines like gymnastics and football. Rhythmic gymnasts must have their 16th birthdays in the year of the Games, that is, 2020, in order to qualify. In the case of football, players must be under the age of 23. The FIFA has maintained in its classification system that athletes born after January 1, 1997 can be selected for their national teams, so those who turn 24 in 2021 will be able to go to Tokyo, if the coach so chooses.
Of course, the world sports festival would be a welcome gift after these tense days, but today the Tokyo Games are the subject of more questions than medal predictions or talk about which country or athletes will take the top honours. What should not be in doubt is that nothing is more important than life, not the medals or the emotions that these great events incite, much less the millions. If we cannot be sure that human life will be well protected, the Olympics can wait.
Granma, Havana, Cuba