We are all aware that the Tokyo Olympics has been delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The authorities feared that holding Olympics at such a time has high chances of accelerating the spread of the infection that they managed to suppress with a lot of efforts due to the incoming of a lot of foreigners in Tokyo. But Tokyo Olympics is not the first one to be held in such a pandemic situation.
This same situation occurred almost over a century ago when in 1920; nearly 2,260 athletes came to Antwerp, Belgium for participating in the Summer Olympics that was being just a few months after the Spanish Flu outbreak ended.
The Spanish Flu ruined the world for almost 2 years, from February 1918 to August 1920. Nearly, one-third of the world’s population was affecting by the Spanish Flu, taking the lives of 20 million to 50 million people all over the world. The numbers are much higher than the current pandemic. Covid-19 has resulted in so far 185 million cases with around 4 million deaths worldwide.
In 1920, the main matter of concern was not whether it was safe to hold the Olympics. After such a deadly plague or not. The main concern was whether Belgium, which was still tackling the effect of World War I. Would be successfully able to hold the games or not.
The 1920 Olympics was still in Belgium although there was no vaccine for Spanish Flu available at that time. And knowing that the virus was deadly for the young, whereas on the other hand. The elderly and infirm are more vulnerable to Covid-19.
A history professor at Ohio State University said that flu generally affects very young and in worse cases. Very old also but the 1920 Spanish Flu was exceptional. As it also affected people belonging to the age group of 20 and 30 killing thousands worldwide. At that period, experts could not study a virus under a microscope so people would treatment on the basis of the symptoms. Social distancing and wearing masks were the major weapons at the time to battle the Flu.
Dr. Anthony Santella, professor of health administration and policy at the University of New Haven said this in the period of the Spanish Flu. There was no disease surveillance system that we have today. And as the Covid-19 is still prevailing. So there have to be a lot of restrictions implement at the Tokyo Olympics. Santella still fears that the Tokyo Olympics can act as a super spreader for the Covid-19.
A Japanese scientist, Hitoshi Oshitani who crafted the successful strategy for the country to subdue the Covid spread. Said that holding the Olympics in such situations without the risks of spreading the virus over Japan and other counties is impossible.
The Tokyo Olympics started on 23 July and is holding during a state of emergency. Due to which no fans are allowing in the stadium.