Sport News The Olympics are going to make people sick

IOC President Thomas Bach is full of it.

And by “it,” I mean bullshit. Lies. Untruths.

Last week, just seven days out from the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on July 23, Bach told the world there is “zero chance” that COVID could spread from the 15,000 athletes about to descend on Tokyo in the next month to residents of the city and, more widely, the rest of Japan.

A mere 72 hours later, we’ve got our first two positive COVID tests among athletes inside the “bubble” of the Olympic Village, as well as the first IOC member to test positive. Did I mention the Games don’t start for five more days? And plenty of athletes, staff, and media members are just now leaving for Tokyo.

All of this has happened since Bach made his ill-informed comments on Thursday (he also referred to the Japanese people as “Chinese,” which wasn’t a great look, either), but it’s not like no one could see this coming. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention to the rollout of the COVID vaccine in Japan for the last several months, all you could see was this coming. Which is why more than 65 percent of the Japanese people are opposed to these Games. But the money-printing juggernaut that is the Olympics will not be stopped, come hell, high water, or millions of deaths from a global plague.

So far, COVID has killed more than 4 million people around the world, and infected around 190 million. That means the virus is killing around two percent of its victims globally (but those numbers vary wildly by country), and we’re not even getting into those suffering lingering symptoms, permanent organ damage, and COVID long-haulers.

Between the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the city of Tokyo can expect around 15,000 athletes from 200 countries to occupy their city from July 23 to August 8 for the Olympic Games, and from August 24 to September 5, when the Paralympics Games close. I know you’ll be shocked to learn that, among this series of great decisions by the IOC, athletes are not required to be vaccinated to take part in the Games. The USOC required coaches and support staff to be vaccinated to attend the Olympics, but stopped short of requiring the same of athletes.

While a good amount of Olympians have already had both shots, the Games will also include athletes from countries that have very limited access to COVID vaccines. The most recent data shows that only about 22 percent of the world population has received both their shots. In Japan, the number is even lower — only 20 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. In other countries, the vaccination rate is much, much lower. For example, only seven percent of South Africans have received at least one shot. In Kenya, that number is only two percent.

Bach has estimated that upwards of 80 percent of athletes arriving in Tokyo will be vaccinated, but that still leaves a pretty good chunk of unvaccinated Olympians walking around the Village. Not to mention, only about 70-80 percent of the media arriving for the Games will be fully vaccinated. And I guess we know now what the IOC’s assurance that “nearly” all its members will be fully vaccinated is worth. One of them only made it as far as the Tokyo airport.

What’s more, experts have been critical of the mitigation protocols Japan has put in place to stem the spread of the virus. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota who has advised on COVID precautions, told Axios that the Tokyo Games aren’t even using as strict a COVID protocol as the NFL or NBA have, which isn’t all that comforting if you know anything about the Denver Broncos or Chris Paul.

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