U.S. & World News

Wuhan virus threatens 2020 Olympics

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insists games will happen despite concerns

The 2020 Summer Olympics are in jeopardy after the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. The International Olympic Committee has said it will decide on whether or not to cancel the summer games by the end of May.

Tokyo is slated to take on the burden of hosting the Olympics in roughly five months when they host the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics shortly afterwards. But this Olympic year will bring unprecedented challenges with the quickly spreading coronavirus in mainland China. This has led professionals to contemplate if the games should be cancelled or postponed, something that has not happened since the second World War. As of now, the games will go on as preceded, but special caution must be taken to ensure the safety of everyone.

            The Coronavirus started in Wuhan, China shortly before the turn of the decade and it is characterized by having a fever along with coughing and sneezing. The primary way that it is spread is through droplets in sneezing and coughing. Mainland China currently has about ninety-eight percent of the eighty-thousand cases, but twenty-eight other countries have reported at least one case. This includes Japan which now has over one hundred cases. In the case that the coronavirus is not under control by then, these numbers can spike up exponentially.

            Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister of Japan, is resolute on making the games happen. This may be in part because of the economic costs that were put into supporting the games and the consumerism that is added to it. It is estimated that Japan has spent more than twenty-six billion for the Olympic and Paralympic games, far exceeding their original prediction of seven billion. It is also estimated that eleven thousand athletes will be participating, and it may break the record for Olympic attendance. But other Olympic related events will be moved due to virus concerns. The training for the Olympic volunteers was supposed to occur on the twenty-second of February and that will be moved.

 Dr. Hitoshi Oshita, a respected virologist in Japan, expresses concern about the games. “I’m not sure of the situation in the end of July” he tells Fox News. “It would certainly be difficult to have the Olympics now”. The current governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, echoes a similar sentiment. She acknowledges the large sizes of the stadiums that will be used for the games and tells the Japan Times that she “is worried about it (the Coronavirus)”.

            Koike has recently acknowledged that she has been speaking to national and local authorities about how to best contain the virus. This can be a challenge, especially with the large number of Chinese athletes that will be competing at the Games. She made a statement to the Japan Times of capitalizing on the “small things” with regards to virus prevention. This includes the washing of hands and wearing protective masks.

            This is not the first time a global virus has been prominent at the same time as the Olympic Games, as the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver occurred when H1-N1 was prominent and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio occurred when the Zika virus was spreading. It is different for Japan though because the country is close in proximity to the Mainland China area and it is deemed a vulnerability as a result. What happens between now and the end of July can make all the difference in making the Games a safe event for everyone.

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