The Tokyo Olympics are just over two weeks away, but calls to cancel or postpone the Games amid the pandemic are getting louder by the day, including from some Richmondites.
The Olympic Games, which were delayed by a year, are scheduled to open July 23 with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organizers determined to go ahead even though the Japanese government has just declared another COVID-19 state of emergency.
The country is now considering a ban on all spectators to curb the number of infections.
Richmondite Stephanie Chan, the four-time Parapan American Games medalist, thinks she made a great decision by not attending.
“I don’t feel comfortable doing so. Staying healthy is a number one priority for me since I am already 66 years old. So I don’t want to risk it by getting on a plane and flying to Japan,” said Chan. “It’s also not safe for millions of Japanese there.”
Chan said there are some rules changes and restrictions placed on athletes this year due to the pandemic.
“We used to hang out with our old Olympics friends from other countries once we finished the games. However, athletes are asked to stay at their hotels without seeing anyone. The isolated situation will take a heavy toll on your personal mental health,” explained Chan. “I would rather wait for the 2024 Summer Olympics.”
Richmondite Keiko Go, a former bilingual radio newscaster in Tokyo, said the Olympic Games is no longer about showcasing the Olympic Spirit, but building a country’s brand and reaping profit from a multi-million dollar monopoly.
Go pointed to a recent survey that found nearly 60 per cent of people in Japan want the Games to be cancelled.
“The poll shows that most Japanese citizens don’t feel comfortable with the Games going ahead, which puts them at risk. This is also against the Olympic spirit,” said Go.