The International Olympic Committee needs to gird its loins, look at itself in the mirror and call the Olympics off – or at least postpone it, maybe for a year.
And Japan…? Japan needs to get over itself and accept that the coronavirus is too difficult an opponent. It also needs to admit that the stubborn hope the Tokyo games will proceed in July – with or without spectators – is all lamentably tied up with money and national pride, rather than concern for the athletes, their health and the credibility of the results.
Who do the IOC think they are kidding with their "the games will go on" stance? Most of the public utterances so far have contained the ridiculously transparent nonsense that there has been no discussion at all of postponement.
There are two main issues here – first, the athletes need some certainty. It is not fair to keep them on a string while the world shuts down with banned travel and closed borders.
Second, these Olympics are fast becoming an icon of greed, the longer Japan and IOC cling to the notion they will go ahead. As with many Olympics, the games are a national showcase – and Japan is gearing up to impress the hell out of us.
It has long been thus with the Olympics. Beijing in 2008 was a springboard for China to show its burgeoning nationhood, just as Los Angeles in 1984 – the world's first "commercial" games – was a celebration of the marriage of capitalism, sport and the free world (even though the then President only showed himself behind a plate of bulletproof glass at the opening ceremony).
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Tokyo is to be the stage where Japan can put the 2011 earthquake and tsunami firmly behind it, spearheading its brave new world. It plans to use everything from self-driving cars, everyday use of robots, instant language translation, artificial meteor showers, algae-fuelled jet airliners, hydrogen-powered villages and 5G communications to underline Japan's rising star.
It did just that in the previous Tokyo Olympics of 1964 when the world marvelled at the unveiling of the world's first "bullet train".
The 2020 Olympics are costing an absolute fortune. Japanese companies' sponsorship of these games (corralled by an advertising agency exhorting big Japanese firms to answer the call of the nation) totals over US$3 billion – more than the sponsorships raised at the 2012 London Olympics and the Beijing 2008 games combined. The whole thing is costing over US$12 billion officially although unofficial figures suggest the real amount may be twice that.
There's the problem. Japanese companies – 15 of them – have paid US$100m to be "gold" sponsors and therefore earn the right to display their technological excellence driving Japan, and the world, into a new future.
That's why we are enduring this prolonged uncertainty re the Tokyo Olympics. Cancelling it or postponing it would be a sporting calamity but even more a corporate, national and political disaster.
What do you gain from a US$100m sponsorship anyway? There probably isn't an accurate answer as this kind of "sponsorship" is more akin to compulsory corporate conscription. There will be another time to show off the whizz-bang toys – which seem curiously irrelevant when the world is reverting to human basics, like survival.
The view in Japan is that everyone loses from a cancellation or even a postponement – a view, by association, current in the IOC.
But let's look at the evidence compelling a postponement:
• A Japanese newspaper poll showed that two-thirds of Japanese citizens – you know, those people at risk of catching coronavirus – are in favour of postponement.
• Vice president of the Japan Olympic Committee, Kozo Tashima, contracted coronavirus this week.
• Japan has, at the time of writing, 1614 cases and 36 deaths.
• Athletes round the world are being denied entry to Olympic qualification events because of the almost-global shutdown in Olympic sports.
• Spain has said its Olympic athletes can't train and Lord Sebastian Coe, head of World Athletics, said athletes from countries with severe coronavirus would be disadvantaged by being unable to prepare as well as those in less affected countries.
• Yes, Japan and its corporations may lose money but the global economy is nosediving and few will be spared. People are dying and losing jobs.
At this stage, let's remind ourselves of the Olympic ideal, the high-sounding creed on which the Olympic movement is based: "To contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
There's discrimination afoot here, if the athletes unable to train are to be believed, and not a lot of fair play – especially if medals are decided on the basis of which countries are less virus-affected.
Time, the IOC and Tokyo, to call it off, for now anyway. It's the Olympics – not an international advertisement. Japan has earned our admiration before and will again – but not if it continues to put money ahead of people.