Olympian dilemma as broadcasters want event on

-: R. Muthu Kumar :-

Tokyo gears up for mega event: Citizens sceptical

The proverbial million dollar question looms large and like the Shakespearean character Hamlet’s dilemma of to be or not to be is: “Will the postponed 2020 Olympics take place as per the new schedule?” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are steadfast in holding the Olympic Games come what may. In fact they are giving big push for the mega event saying the sporting spectacle will be a big vent out and stress buster for sporting fans and sportspersons globally. This despite the COVID-19 pandemic looming large in Japan and forcing the country to declare a third state of emergency!

Japanese officials are leaving no stone unturned in terms of taking precautions to ensure a safe environment for the participating sporting heroes. Despite Japan’s vaccine rollout, which is being speeded up to cover a larger population after a slow start, critics fear the games can turn into a super-spreader in Tokyo. The critics argue that the Tokyo healthcare system is already stretched thin and any further pressure will totally break the system leading to chaos and confusion – especially with so many foreign participants landing on Japanese soil. Organisers, however, insist that the event can be held safely with stringent COVID protocols in place. With spectator attendance expected to be thin due to restrictions, the focus will be on the television and online media. The official broadcasters NBC Universal have assured a massive coverage of the event and are thus pushing for the Games to go as per the new schedule.

Vaccination not a must!

Will vaccinations be mandatory for athletes? Well strangely no, but COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to athletes who wish to be inoculated beforehand. While vaccines will not be mandatory, Thomas Bach, president of the IOC said that he expects more than 80 per cent of the temporary residents at the athlete’s village – which is located on the Harumi waterfront district in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward – will be inoculated.

70, 000 volunteers

About 80,000 volunteers signed up last year to volunteer during the Tokyo Games. It’s unclear how many of them will be tested, but organizers said a number could be screened depending on the “nature of their role” and their “proximity to athletes”.

To date, about 10,000 volunteers have quit, most likely due to fears of COVID-19.

It’s estimated that about 1,000 pulled out in response to sexist gaffes by Yoshiro Mori, who eventually stepped down in February as president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee.

Foreign media under lens

Yes. The protocols are similar to what are required for athletes, coaches and staff. They need to be tested twice before boarding their flights and be tested every day for the first three days upon arrival.

Journalists will be monitored using GPS to ensure they don’t visit destinations that they have not registered in advance. Those who violate the protocols will lose their media accreditation.

Spectators from foreign countries have been barred from attending the games, but how many domestic fans will be allowed has not yet been decided.

Organizers have said that the decision will be made in June – the same month a third version of the playbook will be published, and weeks before the opening ceremony is set to be held, on July 23.

But till now there is no instructions for what happens when a sport person is COVID affected.

It’s not clear what the protocols are for situations where athletes, coaches or staff experience a fever, how they will be tested for COVID-19 or where they will be hospitalized if they test positive.

The organizing committee plans to designate 30 hospitals – 10 of which are located in Tokyo – to provide treatment for athletes, including for sports injuries.

Most public surveys in Japan showed that people are afraid that holding Olympics can turn hazardous but their government officials are keeping their options open till now. However, sports bodies are backing the Olympics committee on this issue and are fully cooperating in complying with the stringent norms laid down so far.

7,000 hours of coverage

People against the Tokyo 2020 Olympics march to protest during an anti-Olympics demonstration, in Tokyo, Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

With sagging entertainment industry badly hit by the pandemic situation, the Olympics are expected to be a big boon for television viewers.

It is obvious that broadcast rights fee provide the largest share of Olympic marketing income, consistently accounting for roughly one half of all revenue.

The official broadcasters for the Tokyo Olympics are NBC Universal and they have assured that they would present an unprecedented 7,000 hours of coverage of the Tokyo Olympics this summer by utilizing two broadcast networks, six cable networks, and multiple digital platforms, serving both English and Spanish-language viewers, making it the biggest media event.

The official cost of the postponed Tokyo Olympics has increased by 22 per cent, the local organising committee said in unveiling its new budget on Tuesday. In an online news conference, the organisers said the Olympics will now cost $15.4 billion to stage.

See also:

Japan caught between devil & deep sea

Torch relay for Tokyo Olympics kicks off its 121-day journey

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