Are the Olympics Next?

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The Washington Post

Norine Moore, staff writer

The Olympic Games have been held every year since 1896 only with cancellations in 1916, 1940, and 1944 due to wars. This year the summer Games are to be held in Tokyo, Japan. However, Japan has recently been highly affected by the ongoing coronavirus which leaves people wondering if these games will be postponed or even cancelled. 

Coronavirus or Covid-19, is an ongoing respiratory disease that as of March 12 had 127,841 reported cases and 4,717 deaths. Of these cases Japan harbors 643 total cases and 16 deaths. This raises a major concern since the virus is highly contagious amongst the elderly or people with respiratory issues. 

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee said that the Games were to be held on schedule even though the amount of cases of the virus increases by hundreds each day. 

According to Doctor Jonathan Finnoff, chief medical officer of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, in order to avoid catching Covid-19, wash your hands regularly, distance yourself from someone exhibiting symptoms, and use sanitizer and disinfectants when unable to wash your hands.

Another alarm raiser in Japan that could affect the Olympics was the Diamond Princess cruise. This ship became a breeding ground for the virus after an 80 year old passenger tested positive after leaving the ship and getting tested in Hong Kong. After the results of the test came back positive the ship and its passengers were quarantined at a harbor in Yokohama, Japan about 40 minutes away from Tokyo. With hundreds of passengers crammed aboard the ship, the virus spread to 696 people and killed 7. 

With so many cases in a close proximity to the upcoming site of the Olympics many people worry if an even larger outbreak will occur. 

However, it is not new to have a serious illness spreading just before the Olympic Games. In 2010, the spreading of H1N1 didn’t delay the Games from being hosted in Vancouver. More recently in 2016 there was a fear of the Zika virus affecting the summer Games from happening in Rio, Brazil. But, with the necessary precautions taken to keep players, staff, and fans safe, the Games went on.

It has been found that most cases of coronavirus occurred in patients older than the general population or in people who had weakened immune systems. Since the athletes participating in the Olympics are generally young and healthy many of them should not be seriously affected by the virus. In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Finnoff claimed that, “It probably will affect the older rather than the young population. It has affected enough people for us to see who is at risk.”

Many people are also worried that with athletes coming from all over the world joining together at one event, the virus will spread easily and contaminate the world. Doctors say that without the correct methods, the virus would be likely to spread but many agencies like the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization are working together to have the games played safely.

As of now the 2020 Summer Olympic Games are to be held on schedule amid the spreading of the coronavirus. As we near the date of the Games which are set to start on July 24, we will find out more about this starting date. But for now, we should expect the Games to be on time.