Can the Tokyo Games still be cancelled? Yes, but the legal and financial fallout would be staggering
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is adamant the Tokyo Olympics will begin as scheduled on July 23, followed by the Paralympic Games on August 24. Polls indicate the Japanese public is equally adamant that neither event should go ahead.
Public sentiment against the games has recently been accompanied by disquiet from local sponsors. A research institute has also argued that while cancelling the games would cost Japan ¥1.81 trillion (A$21.3 billion), the economic loss would still be smaller than the costs associated with a nationwide post-Olympics state of emergency.
These medical and economic concerns are speculative, but they are nonetheless real.
A number of prefectures in Japan, including those in which Olympics events will take place, remain in a state of emergency, extended now to June 20. And Japan’s vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the developed world, at less than 5%.
Both of the above factors support the wider public’s concern that the risks of hosting the games in July appear too high to continue.
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About the Author
Jack Anderson is a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne where he teaches criminal law, the law of torts and sports law.
Jack has published widely in the area of sports law and including monographs such as The Legality of Boxing (Routledge 2007) and Modern Sports Law (Hart 2010) and edited collections such as Landmark Cases in Sports Law (Asser 2013) and EU Sports Law (Edward Elgar 2018). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal based at the International Sports Law Centre at the Asser Institute from 2013 to 2016. He is Honorary Member of the Centre for Sports Law, Sports Policy and Sports Diplomacy, University of Riejeka, Croatia and an external examiner at the University of Malaya.
An accredited workplace mediator and a Chartered Arbitrator, (CArb). Jack is an arbitrator on the international panel for Sport Resolutions UK and World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal. Jack is a member of International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit and a founding member of the Asia Racing Federation’s Anti-Illegal Betting Taskforce. In Australia, Jack sits on the disciplinary tribunal of the Football Federation of Victoria and for Basketball Australia. In 2019, Jack was appointed by the Victoria government to the Board of Harness Racing Victoria. He is Vice-President of Gaelic Games Victoria.
From 2016-2019, he was a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and appeared on the list of arbitrators of the CAS Ad hoc Division for the UEFA EURO 2016 (European football championships). He was the sole CAS arbitrator at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. In 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission and was asked by the Australian government to chair the advisory committee to prepare for the establishment of a national sports tribunal. In 2020, he was appointed as a member of the National Sports Tribunal of Australia.