In early 2020, the eagerly-anticipated Tokyo Olympics were cancelled following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time there was little doubt that the situation would have stabilised in time for a full, normal Olympic Games in the summer of 2021. However, fast-forward a year and the situation in Japan has changed little, with the July 23 start date rapidly approaching.
Japan is battling its fourth wave of the pandemic, with Tokyo, Osaka and a number of other prefectures all under a state of emergency, in a country where only 4.4 percent of citizens have been vaccinated.
According to a recent poll conducted by Reuters amongst the Japanese public, nearly 70 percent of respondents are against the Games taking place this summer and instead want them to either be cancelled or postponed.
Nevertheless, IOC vice-president Joan Coates has declared that the Olympics will go ahead, whatever the situation. When asked if it will take place even if Tokyo is still under a state of emergency, his reply was unequivocal: “Absolutely, yes.”
No international fans
Although there will be no international travellers and despite repeated cancellations of training camps, the latest being the US track and field cancelling their training camp in Chiba last week, it does appear that the Games will take place.
And so, bringing thousands of athletes and organisers together in the same city where the vaccination levels look to still remain low when the Games begin on July 23, with all the possible risks weighed against a watered-down spectacle at best, looks to be the course of action for the summer ahead.