COVID-19 Spike in Japan Forces Cancellation of Visit by IOC President Thomas Bach

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COVID-19 Spike in Japan Forces Cancellation of Visit by IOC President Thomas Bach

A planned visit to Japan by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has been canceled, due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Coronavirus cases rising, several locales around Japan, including Tokyo, have extended their State of Emergency edicts through the end of the month. They were initially scheduled to end on May 11, and their extension has made Bach’s visit impossible.

Bach was scheduled to travel to Japan next week and meet the Torch Relay, and then likely visit Tokyo, but the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced the cancellation on Monday. According to the Associated Press, Bach’s trip will be rescheduled for a later date. In the meantime, calls are becoming louder in Japan to cancel the Games.

An online petition seeking the cancellation of the Games has surpassed 300,000 signatures and opponents of the Games are arguing that if Bach cannot make an appearance in Japan, how can the Games be safely held in less than 10 weeks. However, canceling the Olympics would be a major financial punch to Japan, and specifically Tokyo, as more than $15 billion has been spent.

According to some polls, up to 80 percent of the citizens of Tokyo are against holding the Games. The minority recognizes the financial impact of the Olympics and how athletes have dedicated years of their lives to their crafts and have waited an additional year to test their skills on the biggest stage in sports.

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