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No way Olympics can be held unless virus is defeated

Tuesday، 24 March 2020 01:35 AM

It’s inevitable that the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed to a later date if not scrapped totally following opposition from athletes and several international sports bodies as the deadly coronavirus wreaks havoc across the world.
The world is facing a calamity of grave proportions as the bug continues to spread unabated, infecting people across all classes. It has spared nobody: super-fit and super-rich sportsmen have fallen ill because of it and high-flying politicians, movie stars and royalty have been laid low, not to mention people from ordinary walks of life. About 15,000 have died so far, the most in Italy which has even surpassed the deaths in China, where it all started late last year.
Besides its human toll it has caused financial losses to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars as businesses suffer with no respite in sight. Governments are scrambling to put in effective measures to curb its impact, but it will be several months before any clear picture emerges whether such measures have produced the desired outcome.
Sport has been particularly hard-hit with prestigious competitions put on hold or scrapped. Followed by hundreds of millions of people, the money-spinning football leagues of Europe have gone into lockdown, while other high-profile sports like Formula One, rugby, cricket are staring at an uncertain future.
But without a doubt it’s the Olympics which have been in focus over past few weeks. Because the Games are some four months away, top officials like International Olympic Committee President Dr Thomas Bach had adopted a wait-and-watch approach, hoping everything would fall in place as there was enough time for the virus to run its course.  
But even that hope seems to have disappeared now, with latest reports suggesting that the IOC is indeed going to announce the event’s postponement. IOC officials, it seems have started working on a strategy to hold the Games at a later date without causing much disruption to the world sporting calendar.
In a way the IOC was pushed into a corner. Its apparent lack of clarity on the issue had alarmed National Olympic Committees and the last straw would have come yesterday when Canada and Australia announced they are officially pulling out of the Games.
Undoubtedly, it would be a big blow for Japan which has staked a lot on the Games, with investment topping the $12bn mark. As sport comes to a standstill because of the closure of gyms, stadiums and swimming pools, athletes are left with no place to train.
The Olympics have never before been delayed, though they were cancelled altogether in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the World Wars and major Cold War boycotts disrupted the Moscow and Los Angeles Games in 1980 and 1984 respectively.
But these too are exceptional circumstances. Entire humanity is facing a war-like situation and such situations call for desperate measures. The postponement of the Games, or even their cancellation, therefore, is a small price to pay.


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