In Tokyo, nerves are frayed and critics are loud, but the Olympics plow forward
Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, spoke to The Washington Post about the International Olympic Committee's plan to proceed with the Tokyo Olympics despite news of a rise in coronavirus cases. The article notes that the Tokyo 2020 executives have not provided any details on the rate of the spread of infection that would require action. From a legal point of view, Kishner stated that canceling the Games at this stage would be "unthinkable."
"It's the Titanic going down, or the unsinkable battleship," Kishner said. He elaborated that "[t]here would be billions of dollars of consequences and years' worth of trying to untangle the mess — and that's why I would find it highly, highly unlikely it would happen." Kishner explained that cancellation could leave athletes and officials stranded in the Olympic Village and elsewhere in Japan without immediate flights home, and also would unleash a morass of complicated issues, without any clear set of legal documents to govern what happens next.
"You could guarantee that there would be ensuing litigation out of that type of a doomsday scenario," he noted, and gave an example: "One possibility: the government of Japan obviously controls its jurisdiction, territorial and so forth. They say, `Let's close it down.' The IOC says no. What does that mean? In a legal sense, how does that translate through to the various agreements where all these dollars have been contracted to go all different ways?"
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