Let the 2020 Games Begin

As I’m writing this, some of the preliminary & qualifying rounds of the competitions at the Tokyo Olympics are underway. There are still plenty of people questioning the wisdom of holding an international event of this scale given that we are still technically in a pandemic.

I am not one of them.

COVID-19 is shifting from “pandemic” to “endemic”. It’s all over the world; we can’t contain it anymore. We know what it is, how it spreads, and how it works. We’ve got vaccines that work better than we could have hoped for. To those who have been vaccinated and take reasonable precautions, it – and even the variants – should no longer be a big deal.

Yes, there will be a few cases popping up every day at the Olympics. So? Cases pop up every day no matter where you are. Japan is actually doing better than some countries. They’re showing around 26 new cases per million people per day – compare that to the US with over 110, or the UK with nearly 700.

Japan’s death rate is much lower, too.

The UK recently held Wimbledon, the British Open, and the Euro Cup, and their rise in cases is more to the attitude of their government than the disease. In the US, professional sports teams are in full operation, with fans in attendance. There’s no spike in cases as a result.

Last year, when the virus was new and we didn’t have vaccines, sports leagues shut down – which was the right thing to do. Even the Olympics got postponed. But this summer? There’s no justifiable reason to cancel them. Sure, some athletes and teams may miss out, and individual events may have to be cancelled. So? Recently, six members of the New York Yankees baseball team tested positive for COVID-19. One game had to be postponed – but the entire season hasn’t been cancelled.

The Games will certainly be odd – no spectators in the stands, ceremonies being altered, etc. – but they will still happen.

For all you may hate about the IOC and the politics and the corporatization of the Games, it comes down to the athletes in the end. For some of them, this will be their only chance on the world stage. Don’t take it away from them.

 

Here’s the source of those graphs. Make your own!

This is the best article I’ve yet read on those athletes from the smaller countries who have no hope of winning, but are still thrilled to be a part of the Olympics.

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