Should we cheer or fear the Tokyo Olympics? – Shahid Jameel

(Shahid Jameel is a virologist at Ashoka University. This column first appeared in the print edition of The Indian Express on July 22, 2021.)

The Summer Olympics will open in Tokyo on Friday. Originally scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9, 2020, the Games were postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With the pandemic still continuing and expanding in parts of Asia, the Games will bring together about 11,500 athletes and 79,000 overseas officials, journalists and support staff — and no spectators. Should the Games go on? A petition on change.org started by Kenji Utsunomiya, a lawyer, has garnered about 4,58,000 signatures to “cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives”. Over 6,000 doctors representing the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association have also called for the Games to be cancelled. In a poll of Japanese voters by Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, 62 per cent of respondents said the Olympics should be postponed or cancelled…

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