Olympics will go on in Tokyo despite local COVID surge

The Olympic symbol is installed in front of the national stadium in Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 2021. Photo by yu_photo/Shutterstock.

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo are slated to start at the end of July. But last week, Japan declared a coronavirus-related state of emergency. The country’s been hit by another surge of new cases. Movie theaters, department stores, and bars are closed until mid-May. So far, only about 1% of its population is fully vaccinated.   

It’s unclear what COVID-19 protocols the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will roll out for athletes, says Sally Jenkins, sports columnist for the Washington Post. There will be no vaccination mandates and no international spectators.

She says the Japanese government has spent between $15 to $30 billion on preparing for the summer games, and it’s uncertain whether the Olympics could be postponed again. 

She explains that the last year has been tough on the presumptive athletes. “They're creatures of very rigid training regimens. And all of this uncertainty and all of the delay has been, I think, pretty hard on them mentally and emotionally.”