With the current global Novel Coronavirus epidemic, there has been much speculation surrounding whether the 2020 Olympic Games will go ahead in Japan. Many have worried that the games will be cancelled due to the spread of the disease. The scale of this epidemic is only expected to grow, and reports have suggested that the Olympics could be postponed for two years. With major events all over the world being cancelled or postponed, it is quite possible that the Olympic Games 2020 could go down this path. Many feel that this would be the responsible and appropriate action amid this global crisis.

 What is Novel Coronavirus?

 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a strain of the virus in the Coronavirus family. Most Coronavirus strains are not deadly and show symptoms similar to the common cold. There are other strains. However, that can prove fatal with more serious symptoms such as acute respiratory illness. Currently, COVID-19 has a mortality rate varying between 2-3 per cent. The most at risk of developing severe symptoms are the elderly and individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as cancer, asthma or other related respiratory disease. COVID-19 has proven to be very contagious and a rapidly spreading pathogen.

 What are the symptoms?

 The most prominent symptoms of Novel Coronavirus are a dry cough, fever, headaches, feeling weak, shortness of breath and a runny nose. The main distinction between symptoms of COVID-19 and a common cold would be having shortness of breath or having difficulty breathing. For most people, the symptoms are unpleasant but not life-threatening. People more at risk could develop pneumonia-like symptoms, and it can become very serious very quickly. 

 For this reason, it is extremely important that if you feel unwell, you self-isolate and seek medical attention. If you are particularly worried, you can request to be tested for COVID-19. With limited resources, however, currently, individuals who have recently travelled overseas or anyone who has been in recent close contact with someone confirmed to have tested positive for Novel Coronavirus are the priority for testing. If you are intending on visiting any medical facility, you must phone ahead of time so they can adequately prepare for your arrival to limited spreading disease to others. 

 To prevent the spread of COVID-19, frequently wash your hands. When coughing or sneezing you should cover your mouth and nose with a hanky or tissue, if you do not have one readily available, sneeze or cough into your elbow rather than your hands. 

 How widespread is this epidemic?

 There is no debate that Novel Coronavirus is not only an epidemic in the Wuhan region and mainland China but a global issue now. Nations such as Italy, Iran and South Korea have been the most severely affected outside of China. Many nations are seeing rapid growth in cases, and doctors fear that the statistics indicate that hospitals are not ready to deal with the number of patients that could be infected with Novel Coronavirus in the days or weeks to come. This has been the case of Italy recently, with a shortage of doctors and equipment to deal with the drastic rise of critically ill patients as a result of the disease. 

 Currently, Italy has recorded a total of 35, 713 confirmed cases. This could be much higher though due to a lack of resources and testing capability. Over 4, 000 people have recovered, but sadly approximately 3, 000 have died as a result of the outbreak. The nation recorded its highest rise in deaths overnight with 475 confirmed deaths in one day. While Italy has a great healthcare system, there are not enough resources to cope with the influx of patients. The nation has called upon retired doctors and university students studying medicine in their final and second last year. 

 Many doctors are worried that other nations will soon follow based on the statistics. Several countries have imposed strict social-distancing measures, and some have even imposed full lockdowns in an attempt to slow the spread. The social distancing measures include cancelling major sporting and music events as well as any general mass public gathering. Some businesses and restaurants have been forced to shut their doors, and in several countries, only pharmacies, grocery stores and hospitals have remained open. International travel has been widely restricted across the globe.

 Are the Olympic Games in Japan 2020 still going ahead currently? 

 With all these event cancellations, will the Olympic Games still be held in Japan this year? So far, the Olympics are set to continue. The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, stated that they were not making any adjustments to postpose the Olympics when asked by other politicians in parliament. Several athletes feel that their health is being compromised as they continue to train for the Games amidst this Coronavirus epidemic and believe that they are unnecessarily placed at risk with the decision to not postpone or cancel this year’s event at this stage. While the Olympic committee has assured athletes that their health and well-being are a priority and that measures were being put in place to maintain their safety, many disagree with the decision to go ahead with the Games at this stage due to the current circumstances.

 Should it go ahead? 

 While postponing or cancelling the Olympic Games in 2020 would pose great financial loss and be an inconvenience to organisers, the health and safety of athletes and all people around the world should be considered more important. As authorities have discouraged large public gatherings and promoted public distancing, hosting an event of this scale would be irresponsible. It could quite easily rapidly spread the disease, causing further consequences to both public health and the economy of many nations. It would be wise to consider provisions to postpone the Olympic Games in Japan 2020 to a later date once the Novel Coronavirus epidemic is under control. Athletes and fans would be able to enjoy the Games much more without worries of becoming ill or being affected by travel restrictions.