It is a decision no one wants to make and no one wants to hear, but it is now imperative. Japan needs to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games immediately, or announce it is postponing them indefinitely. The severity of the coronavirus is impossible to ignore, as countries such as Hong Kong scramble to track new infections coming into the city, while others continue to report spikes in new cases. There is no road map for a large-scale global pandemic like this. Sars and Mers were both relatively contained compared to Covid-19, and it never felt as if cases were so out of control that nations impacted could not handle the burden. Coronavirus is an entirely different beast. Each hour our news cycles are flooded with stories about the virus, new cases, incoming travellers, outgoing travellers, unknown clusters in places that previously had no reported infections. This virus is out of control and it will be a while before we as a planet and species feel like we are back at the steering wheel. Tokyo 2020 organising committee member Kozo Tashima, who is the deputy head of the executive committee, announced he had tested positive for Covid-19. The 62-year-old said his test result was confirmed on Tuesday and he had travelled to Europe and the US. Further, Japan’s deputy prime minister, Taro Aso, has gone on record saying the Games “would not make sense” if athletes cannot attend, and I cannot imagine by the time July 24 rolls around the global situation will have improved remarkably, let alone returned to normal. Japan upbeat after IOC confirms Olympics to be held as planned There is so much we don’t know about this virus, and a high-ranking official within the Games organising structure testing positive should be the wake-up call for the International Olympic Committee and the country of Japan. Cancel, or at least calm nerves and announce a postponement. The Japanese people are not behind their government as a recent Kyodo News survey found 70 per cent of its citizens don’t think the Games should go ahead as planned. I’m not sure what more you need other than a resounding call from your own denizens to bite the bullet. Chang Hoon Oh, a professor at Simon Fraser University’s William Saywell Professor in Asia-Pacific Studies, Beedie School of Business, who has studied natural disasters and their impact on businesses for more than a decade, said the biggest hit for Japan will be geopolitical. “If it is cancelled or moved, Japan will lose its opportunity to display its recovery from economic depression,” said Chang, who added the actual impact the Games have on the global economy is limited. “Thus Japan will not get such long-term positive impacts.” Chang said in the grand scheme of things, this is a small price to pay when you look at the alternative: Japan pushing ahead and dealing with a Covid-19 breakout during the Games, which is a serious possibility. “The negative impacts will overwhelm any positive impacts for Japan and for the world. The shock and depression will be much larger if failed. In my opinion, it is better to be safe than sorry.” Robert Vanwynsberghe, an associate professor in the Adult Learning and Education program in the Department of Education Studies at the University of British Columbia, said he hopes the discussions kick-start a much larger conversation. Vanwynsberghe, who has extensively studied the costs and benefits of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, said if hosting the Games directly causes deaths related to the virus, public opinion might further galvanise against the Olympics. “What I keep coming back to is the possibility that cancellation creates an opportunity to rethink the arguments of those who promote and oppose the Games. The pro side now must consider the obvious health fears connected to bringing hundreds of thousands of people from different parts of the planet together. “This property of any Games to date has been argued to be unwise for environmental, such as climate change, and other reasons in the past, but deaths due to the virus could further this perspective.” There is no denying Japan would shoulder a massive loss even if the Games were postponed. They have spent years planning, investing, building infrastructure and readying the nation for its international showcase. But they now find themselves in a classic case of entrapment, heavily invested in a losing battle. No one could have foreseen this and no one will blame Japan if they make the tough decision to axe the Games or push them back. Flight leaves Sarah Lee with anxious wait on coronavirus test result But if they push ahead and host amid an uncertain climate and, as a result, cause harm to people and create panic and hysteria, the losses will be unfathomable. Workers helping with the Olympic torch’s journey to Tokyo are wearing face masks. The writing is all over the wall. The political rhetoric and PR spin from Japan and the IOC needs to stop, this ship cannot be saved. This is a decision no one wants to make, but those in positions of power need to face the obvious. As a lover of sports, it pains me dearly to say this: Tokyo, do the right thing and call off the Games.