Since their inception in the late 1800s, the Summer Olympic Games have become a lifelong aspiration and the athletic pinnacle for many competitors.
Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 at the tail end of 2019, the games had to be constantly reevaluated and pushed back, now landing in the summer 2021 season (although retaining their 2020 title).
With that being said, COVID-19 is still very much a risk worldwide, and particularly in Japan which has reported increasing case numbers over the last few weeks. The games are already set to air with no spectators, but what are the odds that the Olympics will be outright canceled yet again? Here's what we know so far.
So, what are the odds that the Olympics will still be canceled? Here's a breakdown of the possible scenario.
During a press conference on July 20, 2021, the chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, insinuated that there is still the possibility that the Olympics will be canceled at the last minute if COVID-19 numbers get completely out of control.
"We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases," Toshiro told reporters frankly during his panel discussion, per CNBC.
The hesitance to move forward has come alongside plenty of Olympic athletes testing positive for COVID-19, and some big sponsors pulling out of the opening ceremony.
Toshiro said, "We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises."
Japan decided earlier in July 2021 that the stadiums would forego spectators to ensure a completely controlled environment. According to reports, there have been about 67 cases of COVID-19 documented amongst those at the Olympics. That number took off starting on July 1 when competitors began arriving in Japan for the games.
Beyond even that, Japan is apparently behind other developed nations in terms of vaccinations. There were a reported 1,387 new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo alone on July 20, 2021.
There have been concerns raised that the "bubble" created for athletes and officials within the Olympic community isn't as sound as it was toted to be, and those gaps in it have resulted in the increased infection numbers.
Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College in London, said that the bubble was "kind of broken."
"My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the [athletes’] village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people," he explained, per CNBC.
With team members and individual athletes from various nations testing positive for COVID-19 upon landing in Japan, it's unclear currently how it will affect gameplay, and only time will tell what the ultimate decision made regarding cancellation will be.