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China Daily Global / 2020-03 / 26 / Page012

Uphold Olympic spirit in time of pandemic

China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-03-26 00:00

Editor's Note: With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread in many countries, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo organizers announced on Tuesday that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but no later than summer 2021. Two experts share their views on the overall impact of the Games' postponement with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:

Unite for Olympics and common good

Rescheduling the Tokyo Olympics is an expediency because the pandemic is unlikely to be effectively contained within three months.

As for when exactly the Games would be held, it depends on how the pandemic plays out in the coming months.

But the longer the Games is delayed, the bigger the loss for Tokyo, among which the loss suffered by the venues, most of which are owned by individuals or companies, would be huge.

Moreover, Tokyo's tourism industry (indeed the whole of Japan's tourism industry) would suffer an even bigger blow than the one already dealt by the coronavirus outbreak.

After being postponed, how will the Games be played and whether spectators would be allowed into the stadiums will depend on the extent to which the pandemic is contained.

Therefore, Japan should do its utmost to control the outbreak at home as well as join hands with other countries to contain it across the world.

The role of some politicians in some countries during this health crisis has been disappointing, because instead of joining the global fight against the virus, they are playing the blame game over the pandemic. This is not the time to indulge in selfishness and create divisions, but to unite and provide leadership, because only a united fight can safeguard the Olympic spirit and ensure a victory against the virus.

Better later than never

That some IOC members planned to follow Canada and Australia in pulling out of Tokyo 2020 Olympics is likely to have prompted the IOC to postpone the Games to next year. Even though the IOC had said it would take a final call on the issue in a month, such pressure from those countries seem like baleful coercion, which could undermine the unity of the Olympic family. This is the first time in modern Olympic history that the Games has been postponed in peacetime.

But given the tight sports calendar ahead-the World Athletics Championships and World Swimming Championships are scheduled for 2021 and the Beijing Winter Olympics and Asian Games for 2022-deferring the Summer Olympics to next year could cause a lot of trouble.

The rescheduling of the Summer Games may not inflict huge losses on the IOC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. But the losses would be difficult to calculate if the Games had been canceled altogether; at a conservative estimate, more than $20 billion including the IOC's Olympic Partners Program and media rights earning, and the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee's sponsorship and ticket revenue, and investment in infrastructure would all go down the drain.

Besides, Tokyo has made extremely meticulous preparations for the Summer Games, issuing specific and strict guidelines on medication and health management for the Olympics long time ago, much before the world was ravaged by the pandemic.

But it is important to view the postponement of the Tokyo Games rationally, and desist from making irresponsible remarks, because such that would violate the Olympic spirit of unity and harmony.

Most importantly, the Olympiad tradition, which dates back to 8th century BC, and the spirit of regular celebration of the sports gala in modern times for 124 years should be preserved.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.


Zhou Weisheng, a professor at the College of Policy Science at Ritsumeikan University, Japan



Yi Jiandong, a professor at Wenzhou University and an expert in Olympic studies



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