Dear International Olympic Committee – IOC. We need to delay the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, for the following reasons:

  1. Japan’s elderly population
  2. Tokyo’s crowded infrastructure
  3. The athletes’ ability to perform

I worked for more than 2 years on the London 2012 Olympics directly with the athletes, and have seen first hand what the Games are like, in the stadium and in the athletes village. I have also recently been to Japan and witnessed the wonderful culture and how the city is preparing to welcome not only athletes but hundreds of thousands of guests.

However, with the recent exponential growth of the Coronavirus, the facts speak to why we need to delay the Olympic games:

  1. Japan’s aging population: Japan has one of the highest average ages of their people in the world (with an average life expectancy of over 84 years old), meaning that a significant proportion of their population is in the highest-risk category for Coronavirus. Latest research suggests that the death rate for people over 80 with the virus could be over 14%, and around 8% for those over 70. This is putting millions of elderly Japanese people at risk, especially as it will be hard to control social distancing with an additional influx of people into the already crowded city.
  2. Tokyo’s crowded infrastructure: Tokyo is one of the world’s most densely packed cities, with more than 13 million living in the main city and 37+ million in the surrounding metropolis. While the metro and rail system manages to transport millions of people daily, the trains are incredibly crowded, often with people having no space between each other. Similarily, many bars and restaurants in the city are designed for people to sit or stand extremely close to one another, even more so with larger numbers of tourists. This makes it impossible to keep a safe distance from one another to prevent the spread of the virus.
  3. Athletes’ ability to perform: Every athlete attending the games will have been focusing on the day of competition for a long time. For some of them, it has been a lifelong dream and everything else has been sacrificed. But it is not just being in peak physical shape that is required to compete at the highest level. Athletes need to be able to focus on their performance, and not be distracted by what is going on around them. This would be impossible during a pandemic, being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other athletes, officials, volunteers, support staff, medical staff and media. Not to mention fans in the stadiums (if they were allowed in). But not only that, it is the families of athletes who would also be on their mind. Many partners, brothers, sisters, friends and especially parents travel to see their athlete compete. The athletes will wonder if their family is risking their health and lives to watch them, and this will hinder their performance, not only through distraction but surely affecting their sleep as well.

So please, I know that this is your showpiece event, and there is the risk of lost revenue from a delay, but in these times it is the only sensible option.

When the Coronavirus is finally under control, we will then be able to watch and Olympics that really showcases the true potential of people.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below…

PS. I know this is not my normal type of post on Innovation and Creativity, but I spent a lot of time working on the 2012 London Olympics, and I know how bad it would be for everyone (especially the athletes) if the games were to go ahead during this pandemic. I feel very passionately about it. Please follow me to see my upcoming innovation and creativity articles and videos again.

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Chief Editor of Ideatovalue.com and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as the world's #5 Innovation blogger in 2016, I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love.