The Summer Olympics are arguably the world’s greatest sporting event. Only the World Cup rivals it in terms of international participation and interest. It also makes millions of dollars for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), though it frequently also puts host countries in debt due to the amount of temporary infrastructure that must be created, and the amount of lodging required for the thousands of athletes coming from all over the globe.
Last year’s Tokyo Olympics were canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic raging at its worst. The IOC was steadfast in its determination that they would be held this year, and they’re even still officially calling this the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite the fact we’re in 2021. However there were several individuals, and multiple world health organizations, who questioned the wisdom of having such an event this year. They argued that the pandemic was far from over, and that Japan hadn’t vaccinated enough of its population to be totally certain this wouldn’t trigger a host of new infections.
Well, with the Olympics due to start at the end of the week, things aren’t looking so good. First, fans from other nations were banned from attending the games. With a state of emergency now declared throughout Japan, now no fans are being allowed to attend events. The claim made earlier in the month by IOC president Thomas Bach that the Olympics will be “zero risk,” sounds questionable at best, and deliberately ridiculous at worse. COVID-19 is already wreaking havoc with the Olympics.
Monday, an announcement was made that an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team had tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test was announced by the local government of Inzai, a Japanese city in the prefecture where the women’s gymnastics team recently held a training camp prior to the start of the Olympics. Still, 18-year-old Kara Eaker became the first known American athlete to test positive for COVID-19 while in Japan. Fellow alternate Leanne Wong has also been placed in quarantine as a close contact.
That news came on the heels of the announcement Sunday that 17-year-old tennis sensation Coco Gauff tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to compete in Tokyo. The U.S. men’s basketball team has also lost two athletes to COVID-19 BEFORE they arrived in Tokyo, with both Bradley Beal and Jerami Grant being placed in COVID protocols and ruled out for the Games. 
Add their names to the number of cases in and around the Olympic Village, including two South African soccer players, and all this has come with just 22,000 athletes and staff already on the ground. Another 60,000 additional visitors are expected to arrive in the coming days. It truly makes one wonder why the IOC would force Tokyo into hosting an event when no one can be certain about the safety of the participants, and no fans are going to be allowed to view it anyhow.
Those who oppose another cancellation point out that the bulk of the Olympic athletes have worked hard for years to achieve this level, and many won’t get another chance if there’s a second cancellation. But critics cite the hefty fees that the IOC will get from the NBC and international coverage as the reason for their insistence on having the Games played, no matter the risk.
Hopefully, because it seems nothing is going to stop the IOC from presenting the Olympics, as few athletes as possible will wind up contracting the virus. But it is a long shot to assume nothing will happen. The best case scenario is for minimum infections, despite the fact there’s a significant risk factor involved with having these Olympics in a nation still in a state of medical emergency.