THE POSTPONED 2020 Olympic Games are due to open on 23 July: they should be cancelled. Japan is currently in the middle of a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections and parts of the country including Tokyo are under a state of emergency. Vaccination roll out has been slow and health facilities are collapsing. Among the 70–80% of the Japanese population calling for postponement or outright cancellation are members of the medical profession. They argue that a so-called safe Olympics is impossible.

International sports bodies have powers greater than nation states: only the International Olympic Committee can cancel this event. Its arrogance in pushing ahead in the face of a continuing global public health disaster is symptomatic of the hubris of professional sport and the businessmen who run it.

Ultimately it is all about money: branding and packaging a commodity for international broadcasters, sponsors and the IOC who will make billions in profit. It’s time to call a halt to these regular and irrelevant extravaganzas. They involve massive investment in the elite while health provision and recreational opportunity for billions of people are grossly underfunded or non-existent.   

The pandemic has highlighted this injustice as never before.