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Greed the ultimate winner in Tokyo

by RON COOK PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE | July 22, 2021 at 2:31 a.m.

The people of Japan don't want the Olympic Games, which are scheduled to start in earnest Friday in Tokyo after being postponed in 2020 by covid-19. One poll said 80% are against it. Another said the opposition is 55%. Regardless, it is significant.

The doctors in Tokyo don't want the Games. More than 6,000 signed a letter saying their hospitals aren't equipped to deal with a potential, even likely, surge of covid-19 cases. Only 18% of Japan is vaccinated. The country has recorded more than 840,000 cases and more than 15,000 deaths from the virus. A total of 1,387 new cases were reported in the city on Tuesday. That's up 45% from last week. Tokyo is in its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began.

Many sponsors don't want the Games. Toyota Motor Corporation has pulled out and said its president won't attend the opening ceremony. Panasonic Corp., Fujitsu and NEC Corp. also have concerns about being involved in these Olympics.

Even many of the athletes, if they were brutally honest, don't want the Games. They have worked and trained so hard for much of their life for this competition, but it just isn't worth the risk of covid-19. The athletes' movements in Tokyo will be severely limited. It doesn't sound like much fun at all.

So why have the Games?

There are billions of reasons, of course.

That's why I don't believe, even for one second, what the chief of the Tokyo organizing committee said Tuesday. Toshiro Muto held a news conference to say he wouldn't rule out canceling the Games at the last minute.


That would be the right move, the safe move, the correct move, but it isn't going to happen because of the billions of dollars at stake.

These Games shouldn't have been scheduled to begin with.

There have been 67 cases of coronavirus infections since July 1 among those accredited for the Games. Many more cases are expected once the more than 11,000 athletes move into the Olympic Village. No one can rule out a superspreader situation. Everyone fears one.

Prominent U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff has tested positive and won't compete. Kara Eaker, an alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team, also tested positive. The women's team, including the incomparable Simone Biles, will stay in a nearby hotel rather than the village, thus missing out on one of the best experiences for an Olympian.

If that's not bad enough, officials in Tokyo have warned athletes to take precautions against heatstroke because of the high temperatures in the city in July and August. These could be the hottest Games in decades. The weather people also aren't ruling out a typhoon. It sounds like this is a wonderful time to be in Tokyo.

That's if you, as a visitor, could be in Tokyo.

No fans will be allowed at the events. We should be used to that, right? We had games last year without spectators in the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB. But is it just me, or does that reality seem so much worse at an Olympics? It is an event where the world is supposed to gather in peace and harmony.

So much for that.

Forget what Muto said.

Forget about the people in charge doing the right thing.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said canceling the Games has never been an option. He has his reasons.

Billions of them.

Print Headline: Greed the ultimate winner in Tokyo


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