Everything that’s gone wrong for the Tokyo Olympics so far
By Charles Hilu | Washington Examiner
With the opening ceremony just days away, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are off to a rough start.
After being delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the games are seeing serious challenges in the days leading up to them, including COVID-19, inclement weather, and suspension for marijuana use.
Several countries have seen their athletes withdrawn or sidelined from the games due to COVID-19 protocols.
Most recently, American 3-on-3 women’s basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson withdrew from the Olympics due to a positive test.
“I am devastated to share that after getting sick with COVID-19, I will not be able to go and compete in Tokyo. Competing in the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and I hope someday soon, I can come back to realize that dream,” she posted on Instagram Monday.
On Sunday, an alternate on the United States’s Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team also tested positive for COVID-19, the Japanese city of Inzai and U.S. Gymnastics announced.
“One positive coronavirus infection was confirmed by the American Women’s Gymnastics Team, which is conducting a pre-camp for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Motoichi,” the city said in a Monday release.
The alternate was not named by the city, but coach Al Fong confirmed the alternate was Kara Eaker, an 18-year-old from Grain Valley, Missouri. She tested positive before entering the Olympic Village, USA Today reported. Eaker is quarantining with Leanne Wong, another alternate, who was deemed a close contact.
The same day, 17-year-old U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff, who was set to lead the team in Tokyo, withdrew from the Olympics after receiving a positive COVID-19 test.
“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future. I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family,” she tweeted.
Earlier in the month, two South Africans and one Serbian also received positive tests.
The games will likely not be canceled but will have strict COVID-19 safety protocols, Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee, said in May. Athletes must receive two negative tests before leaving for Japan and another when they land at the Tokyo airport, and national Olympic committees must appoint “COVID-19 liaisons” to ensure that competitors are complying with the measures.
Opening ceremony composer resigns
Keigo Oyamada, a composer working on music for the opening ceremony, resigned on Monday after it was revealed that he bullied a disabled classmate in his childhood, tormenting him from middle school through high school.
“I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts,” he tweeted, announcing his resignation and offering an apology.
The public knew about the abuse as he reportedly boasted about it in an interview with Japanese media in the 1990s, per the Associated Press.
Top sponsor pulls ads
Toyota, which invested $1 billion as a top sponsor of the games, is set to pull all of its Olympic-themed TV advertisements, the company announced on Monday.
“There are many issues with these games that are proving difficult to be understood,” said Jun Nagata, Toyota’s chief communications officer, according to the Associated Press.
The Japanese government’s decision to go on with the games despite the declaration of a state of emergency due to a surge in COVID-19 cases has been met with mixed reactions from the public, with some believing it is unwise for the Olympics to go on.
U.S. Men’s Basketball team loses members
Multiple members of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team left the roster before arriving in Tokyo. Starter Bradley Beal tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday and will miss the Olympics after being placed in health and safety protocols, while NBA champion Kevin Love withdrew from the games due to injury recovery. The two will be replaced by JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson, Team USA announced Friday.
Basketball fans were aghast when the star-studded men’s team lost to Nigeria, ranked 22nd in the world by the International Basketball Federation, in a July 10 exhibition game.
In addition to Beal, the U.S.’s starting lineup for the game included Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, and Bam Adebayo, who have 23 total NBA All-Star appearances and multiple NBA championship titles between them. Also on the team is former Defensive Player of the Year and three-time NBA champion Draymond Green.
Fans banned from events after the state of emergency declaration
Fans will not be permitted to attend any sporting events or ceremonies at the Tokyo Olympics amid a state of emergency as Japan has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases with the emergence of the delta variant.
“In response to the state of emergency, stricter measures with regard to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 have also been decided by the three Japanese parties. No spectators will be allowed into any venues in Tokyo during the Olympic Games,” according to a statement from the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC revealed the ban on July 9, shortly after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a state of emergency for the country.
“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” Suga said.
Japan saw almost 21,000 COVID-19 cases from July 13 until July 19, recording 94 new deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. Approximately 21% of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated.
The Tokyo Olympics are set to be the hottest on record.
On Friday, the day of the opening ceremony, temperatures in Tokyo are forecast to have a high of 89 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures for the next 10 days are expected to sit around the mid to high 80s.
The temperatures for the games will likely surpass those of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, which previously held the record for the warmest Olympics, according to the Australian Jacaranda Atlas.
High summer temperatures and humidity in Tokyo could lead to a “nightmare” scenario for athletes, according to a report from the British Association for Sustainable Sport. The heat has resulted in multiple events, including the marathon, being moved miles away from the capital city.
Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension for marijuana use
Track star Sha’Carri Richardson, who dazzled audiences with her performance in the U.S. Olympic trials, was suspended for 30 days and denied a spot on the U.S. Olympic team on July 2 for the use of marijuana.
“While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games,” USA Track and Field said in a statement.