First Glastonbury, now this. In sobering news after yesterday’s inauguration festivities, Japan has reportedly decided to cancel the 2021 Olympics due to the coronavirus. On Thursday, January 21, the Times reported that the Japanese government has “privately concluded” to cancel the already once-postponed 2021 Olympics because of surging cases of COVID-19 across the world. Per the report written by Richard Lloyd Parry, Japan is trying to find a “face-saving way” to announce the decision that also “leaves open the possibility of Tokyo playing host at a later date.” Apparently, Japan’s new focus is to lock in 2032, the next available year, to host the games in Tokyo, which were originally scheduled to begin on July 24, 2020 and then rescheduled to begin on July 23, 2021. “No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” a source told Lloyd Parry. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
However, as of now the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would beg to differ. Earlier that same day, the IOC released a statement claiming that the 2021 Olympics would go on as planned this summer. “We have, at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on 23 July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. “This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful.” While Bach was firm about the 2021 Tokyo Olympics happening, he did hint at potentially reducing the number of spectators as well as employing other precautions in order to ensure everyone’s safety. “The priority is the safety,” Bach told Kyodo News. “When it comes to safety, then there can be no taboo.”
Publicly, the IOC and Japanese Olympic organizers have tried to assure the public that the 2021 Olympic games will happen, with Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga calling the forthcoming Olympics “a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.” But senior IOC member Dick Pound cast some doubt as to whether the event will actually take place, stating, “I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus.” While it looks like the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it’s probably hard to pull the plug on an event that has reportedly cost Japan over $25 billion and counting. So, TBD whether or not we ever get to see Simone Biles defy gravity again or if the coronavirus will rob us of that as well.