Do not send our athletes to the Tokyo Olympics

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We are now reading that the Minister of Sport has come out with a statement regarding our participation in the Tokyo Olympics.

As with the usual run-of-themill political type, the statement vacillates, kicks the can down the road and seeks to avoid the issue. Let us be clear on what the situation is regarding these Olympics.

Some 100 countries will be sending 10,000 athletes and officials to the Tokyo Olympics.

They will be coming from places where the original and mutant strains of the virus are wreaking havoc on human health and socio-economic well-being.

En route to Tokyo these travellers will cross many borders, overnight in many airports and hotels, possibly travel overland in some instances.

This potentially Covid-19soaked group will land in Tokyo, which is under a state of emergency and which is barely able to manage the crisis.

All types of lead-up events have been cancelled in Japan such as the Olympic Torch run and test events. Even the US is beginning to hedge its bets.

Japanese sporting heroes are cautiously sounding alarms. The Japanese have set up special hospital facilities for the visitors, according to BBC reports.

So for a month these sportsmen and women will be in confinement with each potentially a Covid-19 carrier.

Yes, I said potentially but who wants to prove one way or the other. We need not go into the absurdity of discussing what it will be like to compete and officiate under these conditions.

Heck, I am a sports photographer. Taking photos wearing a mask? Staying a safe distance from the action? Not being able to go close enough to capture the emotions?

Reporters roam all over trying to capture that one special shot. I recently asked one of our leading sports journalists how he would feel sitting in the press box next to a reporter from Brazil or India. His response? ‘Yuh have a good point there, you know. I ain’t study that!’ So after this month-long ‘Covid Congress’ is over, with God knows how many mutations developing, this contingent of super-spreaders fans out all over the world.

We opened up for three days of Easter, something CMO Dr Roshan Parasram was cautious about, and ‘we feelin’ it’. Will Tokyo be any different?

Nations have boycotted the Olympics for political reasons. Is Covid-19 not a danger 1,000 times more dangerous?

If cholera were raging in Tokyo would the minister still say it is ‘a touchy matter’? Countries avoided the Congo during the Ebola epidemic. Are we giving Covid-19 a free pass?

This is not about sports and the Olympic spirit. Our national well-being, our very lives, are on the line here and we must not find ourselves negotiating our national security with the International Olympic Committee or its local affiliate.

This is a decision the Government must make in the people’s interest. We are not going to Tokyo 2021!

Rae Samuel
Balmain