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The Threat of the Coronavirus at the Olympic Games

Image courtesy of the LA Times

By Noelia Veras

After weeks of warnings to the International Olympic Committee about the threat posed by the coronavirus in Japan, several athletes from different countries as well as Olympic officials have tested positive just days before the Games begin. 

Tokyo remains in a state of emergency, and although spectatorship is banned, fear remains about the potential spread of the virus because of the Olympics. As a result, many Japanese citizens are protesting the Games.

11,000 athletes are staying in an Olympic village, which mirrors the mostly successful NBA bubble, in order to avoid spreading the coronavirus by isolating the players. However, the village has proven unsuccessful for many athletes.

According to a report by Reuters, 67 cases have been detected among those accredited for the Olympics since July 1. The first coronavirus case was detected on Sunday July 18.

With the Olympic Games just days away, it seems cancelling the Games is still a possibility. 

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” said the Head of the Olympics Organizing Committee Toshiro Muto.

Public support for the Olympics is at an all time low, causing big names like Toyota pulling their Olympic-related TV ads from being played.

According to NBC News, in a survey from one of Japan’s largest newspapers Asahi Shimbun, 55 percent of people said the Olympics should not be held and only 33 percent said they should.

Gymnast Kara Eaker, an alternate for Team USA, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Eaker was asymptomatic and vaccinated but received multiple tests saying she was positive for the coronavirus. According to CNN Sports, USA Gymnastics said its athletes have been moved to a different location to train and lodge. 

Coco Gauff, American tennis player, announced that she would not be able to play in the Games due to testing positive for the coronavirus. 

“We were saddened to learn that Coco Gauff has tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be unable to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said the United States Tennis Association in response to Gauff’s announcement. “The entire USA Tennis Olympic contingent is heartbroken for Coco. We wish her the best as she deals with this unfortunate situation and hope to see her back on the courts very soon.”

Additionally, two members of the Mexican baseball team tested positive for Covid-19 before they departed for Tokyo on Monday night according to Forbes.

“It’s obvious that the bubble system is kind of broken…” Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said. “My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the village…[followed by] interaction with local people.”

With the Olympics beginning tomorrow, there is really no telling what will happen. Many locals do not want the Games to go on, and evidently the Games are causing turmoil among Japan’s citizens. For now, the International Olympic Committee continues to try to mitigate the spread of the virus by tracking athletes and isolating them as much as possible from the general population. It seems only time will tell what will really happen at the Olympics.

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