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Beckoning the Bookie: How COVID Changes the Landscape for the Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics

As the Tokyo Olympics continue to draw near, COVID concerns are rising. 71 individuals in the Tokyo Olympic Village have now tested positive for COVID-19.

It is well-understood that the presence of the virus will change the fate of the games in many ways. The Olympics have already been pushed back a year, but we are also seeing roster changes because of infected players.

Infections Among Athletes

Today, CNBC reported that South Africa may run into trouble trying to fill the soccer field on Thursday because of growing infection rates. This is slowly becoming the case for many countries.

Japan recently declared another state of emergency due to COVID. This measure prompted action from state officials and Olympic organizers to completely bar spectators from the events.

Infected competitors are subject to isolation. However, it is unclear whether this will be enough to allow the Games to continue. 

Unprecedented Outcomes (?)

Approximately 80% of competitors are or will be vaccinated by the beginning of the Games. However, the other 20% are left to their own devices. For some, it may be a personal choice not to get vaccinated. For others, it demonstrates a lack of widespread access to the vaccine.

For this reason, it is plausible that many teams and competitors may have to drop out altogether. This factor alone can be expected to change the outcome of the games.

Regarding sports bettors, this could be a great opportunity to place otherwise risky bets. All predictions are truly the air and sportsbooks have a line for everything.

A Reflection of the Globe

Competition may come down to more than just ability; it will also come down to access.

As mentioned before, the South African National Soccer team may not even be able to compete on Thursday. This aligns with the region’s condition regarding COVID: vaccines are largely inaccessible and infection rates are sparking drastically.

 If COVID continues to infect athletes and volunteers at the Olympic Village, the Games could very well be called off. A local newspaper in Japan hosted a poll that reported 55% of participants wanting to cancel the Tokyo Games altogether.

Is Cancellation in the Cards?

The Game’s chief of the organizing committee recently stated that a last-minute cancellation is not entirely out of consideration. He remarked that his team will keep watch over COVID numbers and act accordingly.

All in all, it is a tough call. Canceling the Games could indicate the end of a career for many. For some athletes, Tokyo is their first only shot at competing on such an international stage.

Going forward with the Games could sow catastrophe in the city as the virus is still at large.

Amid all the COVID commotion, one thing is for sure: everything is clearer in hindsight.