Will The 2021 Tokyo Olympics Have Fans? – Odds Heavily Favor Spectators Attending

Opposition to the Tokyo Olympics is growing with calls for a cancellation as virus cases rise in Japan. The International Olympic Committee and local organizers have already said another postponement is impossible, leaving cancellation, or going ahead, as the only options. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
  • With the start of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics just six months away, the odds favor fans being allowed to attend
  • Japan enjoyed early success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, but a recent spike in deaths has impacted support for the Olympics among the nation’s citizens
  • We’ve got you covered with the odds and breaking news as the countdown to the Tokyo Olympics continues

One of the biggest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year has been the 2020 Summer Olympics. Set to take place in Tokyo in July and August of last year, organizers had no choice but to postpone the Games as global coronavirus case counts mounted, disrupting qualifying for dozens of Olympic events.

However, major sports leagues around the world have since found ways to safely resume play with limited numbers of fans in attendance. That has lifted the hopes of sports fans who hope to attend if the Olympics take place this summer, fueling strong -580 odds of at least some spectators being on hand to take in the action at the 23rd Olympiad.

Will the 2021 Tokyo Olympics Take Place with Spectators?

Yes Odds No Odds
-580 +325

Odds as of Jan. 14

Organizers Determined to Hold Olympics in 2021

The Tokyo Olympics was among the last major sporting events to be put on hold as the coronavirus crisis deepened last spring. Both organizers and Japanese politicians vowed to do whatever was necessary to ensure the Games would take place in 2021. That messaging has not changed. With organizers stating that any further postponement of the Olympics would be “absolutely impossible”.

Optimism surrounding the return of the Olympics to the Japanese capital for the first time since 1964 has been heightened by the nation’s modest success in managing the pandemic. Unlike many Western nations, which have struggled fruitlessly to control the spread of the deadly disease, Japan fared moderately well early.

Public Support for Olympics Sours as Death Count Skyrockets

However, the number of deaths have skyrocketed since early November. There are also no plans in place to begin vaccinating Japan’s 126 million citizens. Recent opinion polls suggest as many as 80% of the Japanese people are opposed to the Olympics moving forward as scheduled. That has raised the possibility that the Games may be canceled for the first time since World War II, with or without fans.

Those concerns deepened further this week. The Japanese government decided to expand the present coronavirus state of emergency to areas beyond Tokyo. As part of that move, Japan has also closed its doors to foreign visitors. They also warned foreign nationals living in the country that they could face deportation if they are caught violating the harsh new measures.

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The Clock is Ticking

The opening ceremonies for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics remain six months away. And as sports fans have come to understand, that is an eternity during a deadly pandemic.

Japan is now experiencing its third wave of the pandemic. Japan is likely to see its case numbers drop as the new measures take hold. But will that give Japan adequate time to prepare to both host the thousands of athletes, officials, staff, and media arriving in the island nation for the Olympics? As well as safely allow fans into stadiums?

Of course, it is unwise to underestimate Japan’s ability to pull off a successful Olympics. The nation has hosted the Olympics on three previous occasions, most recently the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. However, the prospect of bringing the current COVID-19 outbreak under control anytime soon is looking bleak. That being said, there is little value in the short -600 odds of spectators being permitted at this year’s event.

The Pick: No spectators at the Tokyo Olympics (+350)

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