The Olympic Games oath, in which a representative of the host country promises on behalf of all athletes to compete honorably, closes with the aspiration: “To make the world a better place through sport.” There has to be a question whether the Tokyo Games beginning in just 30 days, already put off a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, can live up to that pledge amid fears they could spark a fresh wave of infection and the spread of the resistant Delta variant of the virus.
Members of the Japanese public who once anticipated the event with pride before it was put off last year no longer feel that way, according to a poll last weekend by the Asahi News Network. Sixty-five percent of respondents want the Games postponed again or canceled, and nearly 70% doubt they can be held safely, contrary to reassurance by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Because of the risk of contagion, these are already the first Games at which foreign spectators will be unwelcome. Controversially, the Tokyo organizers, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo and Japanese governments have decided to take that risk anyway by allowing up to 10,000 domestic spectators at each event, or 50% venue capacity, whichever is lower.