Tokyo Olympics affected by Covid-19

Although there’s just four days to go before the commencement of the Tokyo Olympics, the sporting event is still facing many issues with its long-term enemy, Covid-19.

Covid-19 infections in Olympic Village

tokyo olympics covid 19 - south african team footballer
South African football team member preparing to get on flight to Japan
Image credit: South African Football Association

On 18th July 2021, the South African Football Association announced that two of its members from the under-23 team, as well as a video analyst, tested positive for Covid-19. The affected personnel have been placed under quarantine. Luckily, the rest of the team tested negative twice for the virus.

The Olympic Village officially welcomed incoming athletes on 13th July 2021, and the two footballers from the South African team were the first athletes to have tested positive for the virus. 

Olympic village
Image adapted from: @Tokyo2020

Nevertheless, there have been confirmed Covid-19 cases within the residential venue even before the official opening. On 6th July 2021, organisers confirmed that two workers in the Olympic Village tested positive for the virus.

tokyo streets night
Image credit: Dalelan Anderson

The potential transmission within the Olympic Village isn’t the only cause for concern. Tokyo has been seeing a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases recently. The number of cases spiked to 920 on 7th July, up from 342 cases just two days earlier. This prompted the government to declare a new state of emergency in Tokyo. 

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium
Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Subsequently, a spectator ban on certain venues was announced. These venues include the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which is the venue for baseball and softball matches during the Games. The Hokkaido Sapporo Dome, which is slated to host the football matches, will also be off-limits to the public.

tokyo olympics covid 19 - tokyo cases graph
Image adapted from: Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Till today, the situation in Tokyo continues to be concerning. The number of confirmed cases has not dropped below the four-digit mark since 14th July 2021.

Low enthusiasm for the games

ipsos survey olympics
Image credit: Ipsos

Domestic support for the Tokyo Olympics has been low due to concerns of an uncontrollable outbreak in Japan. According to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos between 21st May to 4th June 2022, only 22% of the respondents from Japan agreed that the Games should carry on.

tokyo olympics covid 19 - change org petition
Image credit:

Meanwhile, the “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives” petition on has garnered 456,451 signatures as of 19th July 2021, inching closer to its target of 500,000 signatures. The signatures include those from people living in Japan and those overseas.

Scandals plague Olympic prep

The pandemic isn’t the only enemy of the 2021 Summer Games. Joining Covid-19 in ruining the Games is the host of scandals that have occurred before the event has even commenced.

tokyo olympics covid 19 - original olympics logo
Scrapped Tokyo Olympics logo
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2015, the Games had a rocky start when Belgium designer Olivier Debie accused the designer of the original Olympics logo of plagiarism. Debie accused the Japanese designer of copying his logo for a theatre called Théâtre de Liège. Following the dispute, the original logo was scrapped.

tokyo olympics covid 19 - Naomi Watanabe
Naomi Watanabe, a Japanese comedian.
Image credit: @watanabenaomi703


In February 2021, former Olympic chief Yoshiro Mori stepped down from his position after receiving flak for his sexist remarks. 

Just a month later, the director of the opening and closing ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki, reportedly made fun of Japanese comedian Naomi Watanabe by suggesting that the celebrity should dress up in a pig costume to act as an “Olympig”. He subsequently resigned from his position following backlash.

tokyo olympics covid 19 - national stadium
National Stadium in Tokyo
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Then, just yesterday, a Uzbekistan worker allegedly raped a woman following the closing ceremony rehearsal at the National Stadium.

These are just some of the scandals amongst many other incidents over the past few years, ever since Tokyo won the bid to host the Games in 2013.

Tokyo Olympics plagued by Covid-19 & mismanagement

Even with all these obstacles, it seems likely that the Games will carry on. We sincerely hope that everyone will stay safe at the various venues, and that Tokyo’s Covid-19 situation will be alleviated soon.

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Cover image adapted from: South African Football Association and Wikimedia Commons

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