Holding 'Autumn Olympics' isn’t that bad an idea for Japan

March 10, 2020 11:24
Preparations have been made in Tokyo for the staging of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games. Photo: tokyo2020.org

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to kick off on July 24 and wrap up on Aug. 9.

Unfortunately, as Covid-19 continues to spread, with the number of confirmed infections around the world surpassing 100,000, the Japanese government is now facing a difficult decision over whether to postpone or even cancel the games.

According to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, the words “cancellation” and “postponement” were not even mentioned with regard to the Tokyo Olympics at the IOC board meeting on Wednesday last week.

However, as the coronavirus outbreak is worsening, it has become uncertain whether or not the games can go ahead as planned.

Earlier on, Seiko Hashimoto, Japan's Olympics minister, told members of the Sangiin (House of Councillors) that according to the agreement made between the government and the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics have to be held within this year.

Hashimoto’s remarks have been widely interpreted to mean that postponing the games to a period before the year-end is now an option for the Japanese government.

While we believe it would be a bit too pessimistic to cancel the Tokyo Olympics at this point, it would also be too optimistic to believe that it can go ahead as scheduled.

As July is just four months away, nobody can tell how the epidemic is likely to play out in the coming days, and therefore it is pretty remote that the Tokyo Olympics can take place according to the original timetable.

Besides, even if both China and Japan can miraculously achieve zero infection by July, who can guarantee that Covid-19 will also be successfully contained in other countries by then?

Our suggestion, therefore, is this: Why not decisively announce its postponement until later in the year as soon as possible in order to avoid throwing athletes and spectators around the world off guard?

In fact, changing the “Summer Olympics” into “Autumn Olympics” isn’t too bad an idea amid the global health crisis.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 6

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal