Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Monday, March 23, 2020

With COVID19 afflicting world leaders & personalities as well as tens of thousands of ordinary folks all over the globe, there's tremendous clamor to postpone for next year the Tokyo Summer Olympics & Paralympics---originally scheduled for this July to September at a whopping $1.4B.

Everywhere in the world the sense of urgency about the coronavirus is so palpable and one reason, aside from its pandemic proportions, is that it has become a celebrity affliction. Famous folks are being downed by it all over the globe. 

Consider, for instance, that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 65, had to be quarantined after having been exposed to the virus from her doctor who had been giving her injections for an illness.  Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife were afflicted and so were Spanish Ministers Irene Montero and Pablo Iglesias. Top Iranian leaders were also stricken. 

On the other hand, erstwhile disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was diagnosed with Covid19, as were US Senator Mitt Romney, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, among the prominent folks in the US. 70-year old New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond has also tested positive for the virus.

Here in our country a number of prominent people have also shown up positive for the virus. 


But it's not just celebrity folks who are being afflicted--even businesses that cater to the broad masses are being affected. All McDonald's outlets in the United Kingdom and Ireland will be closed to protect their customers, as well as their staff who number some 130,000 in both countries. 

As expected, world travel is the worst-hit industry. Reports indicate that planes from Europe, where the virus appears to be more widespread, are banned from flying to the US. 


On the other hand, some 70 million to as many as 180 million Chinese tourists have been banned by their government from travelling abroad. This ban will definitely affect world tourism, e.g, airlines, hotels, restaurants where the world's new-affluent Chinese have been roaming the world and wowing it with their seemingly bottomless wealth over the past decade. 

Interestingly, China now wants to insulate itself from the very scourge that it has infected the world with---the virus that started from a species of wild birds in a little city in Central China called Wuhan. 


But perhaps the biggest seismic quake in the tourism business, due to the pandemic, is the fact that the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, scheduled from July 24-Aug 09 this year, as well as the Tokyo Paralympics that will run from Aug. 25-Sept. 06, have a very fat chance to be postponed. Already a couple of countries have withdrawn from participating, owing to the virus that has stricken their sports people.  

Recall that this Olympic event will be the first in Tokyo since it hosted a similar event in 1964. This 2020 World Olympics was hard-fought by the Japanese government, with Madrid and Istanbul in tight competition in 2013.


Now plans are all set---with a beautiful Olympic stadium designed by famed Japanese architect Kenzo Kuma already in the finishing stage---despite running into high-profile criticism especially over spiraling costs. 

The fabulous stadium is said to have involved 70,000 cubic feet of timber from each of the 46 prefectures of Japan, and can seat 68,000 spectators for the opening and closing ceremonies. 

Olympic facilities in Tokyo are said to be budgeted at a whopping $1.4B!


Write-ups about the fabulous Olympic Village in the outskirts of Tokyo spoke of "capturing people's thoughts on the environment or the Earth at the time." Athletes competing in the games are supposed to sleep on bed frames made of cardboard and mattresses made of plastic---"to reduce the event's carbon footprint."

With the COVID 19 assuming pandemic proportions, however, there's increasing pressure from various countries that the Tokyo  Olympics be postponed, as the COVID 19 could still be in its fullest rage by opening week.  A number of countries have already indicated their stand for postponing for next year. 

Will the pandemic be the huge spoiler to the much-touted Tokyo Summer Olympics? 

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