The 2020 Summer Olympics games are just around the corner and will be held mostly in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo. Having been deferred for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mega-sports event will begin later this week on 23 July 2021, and last for a further fortnight.
The games will have 339 events in 33 sports across 50 disciplines. This year’s games will see the introduction of new competitions including 3x3 basketball, freestyle BMX, madison cycling, and further mixed events.
As many as 205 National Olympic Committees and the Refugee Olympic Team have qualified (including the 101 universality places guaranteed in athletics, under which all 206 NOCs may send competitors regardless of qualification).
However, this time it’s unlike the other Olympic games. One of the most anticipated sporting events in the world is likely to be dull this year, in stark contrast to the usual pomp and splendour accompanying the games. Last year when the games were postponed, its organisers thought that the pandemic might subside by middle of 2021. The things did start to come back on track after a deadly second wave in India during the months of April and May.
However, the relief was short-lived, and the UK announced that a new strain of virus was found – Delta Plus variant. The virus seems to be upgrading itself fast, with Lambda variant cropping up soon after. This was the beginning of the third wave. The Asia Pacific countries, which include the host Japan, were among the worst hit. The fresh weekly cases in the country have surged by 48% last week – reporting 19,749 new infections. With rising infections, and a state of emergency being placed in the country, it was decided that the Tokyo Olympics would be held sans spectators. Imagine the venue of the world’s largest sporting event, without any spectators to cheer the crowd.
The lack of spectators does not augur well for Japan financially as the games bring in lot of money into the country. A normal Olympics event serves to boost the host country’s revenues with a sea of sports enthusiasts travelling to the nation from across the world.
The pandemic has already started taking a toll on the event. There were reports of infections within the Tokyo Games Village last week, although authorities have not revealed the name of the infected person – and it is not known if he/she was an athlete, support staff, or a volunteer.
In yet another case, Coco Gauff, the 17-year-old member of the US tennis contingent for the Olympics has pulled out of the games.
“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Gauff wrote on the microblogging site – Twitter – on Sunday.
“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.”