Leadership Management Motivation
Tokyo 2020: a challenge to prove owrth.
July 19, 2021
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Call it Crisis Management. In any crisis, it is a fundamental best practice to avoid doing anything that could extend the crisis or make things worse.

In the case of international crisis situations such as the continuing Covid pandemic, it also helps to remember two key principles: Murphy’s Law, which states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” And American baseball great Yogi Berra, who observed that “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

The pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride of a crisis, with ups, downs, twists, and turns. And despite the record-setting development and distribution of Covid vaccines, this crisis certainly is not over.

In March 2020, that year’s Tokyo Olympics were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. But now, less than two months until the start of the games, scientists are warning that canceling the Olympics, “maybe the safest option,” according to a paper published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors analyzed the International Olympic Committee’s Covid-19 guidelines, noting there is “no plan B in the event of an outbreak.”

And that’s another basic tenet of crisis management: always have a backup plan ready in case things go wrong—or when your primary crisis plan does not work.

Growing Concerns
Scientists and public health officials are not the only ones raising red flags about the wisdom of going ahead with the Olympics.

Reuters reported today that “Japanese newspaper publisher Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, called for the Summer Games to be canceled in an editorial on Wednesday, citing risks to public safety and strains on the medical system from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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According to the New York Times, “Widely documented polling in Japan continues to show that most of the country’s population is wary, wanting the Olympics to either be postponed again or canceled outright; the United States Department of State this week issued a Level-4 travel advisory for Japan — “Do not travel” — that served as an ominous indicator of the state of the virus fight there; and members of the global health community, prominent business leaders and at least one key Olympic partner continue to voice concerns about the dangers posed by proceeding with the Games.”

Follow Facts And Data
Another lesson from the actions of officials of the Tokyo Olympics is to make all crisis-related decisions on the basis of facts.

“Big egos and emotion have long dominated the IOC and national organizing committees,” said Dr. Rob Britton, who teaches crisis management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and was part of the leadership team at American Airlines that rebuilt the brand after 9/11.

In the case of Tokyo, “it looks like they should have parked both ego and emotion next to their Lexuses or Acuras. Effective corporate crisis managers, like those at airlines, know to leave emotion and personal stakes out of decision-making, and act on facts and data,” he said.

‘Better Off Cancelled’
Ciaran Lawler, a lecturer at the Tokyo Institute of Tourism, observed that “The general sense is that, at this very late stage, the games would be better off canceled. There has been a feeling of acceptance of this throughout the tourism sector for some months now. The comparatively very slow vaccination rollout compared to the West is compounding these feelings.”

He noted that “Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has expressed a desire to extend the present state of emergency in the capital until the end of June. It was originally due to expire at the end of this month. The situation remains far from stable as a result. “

An Ounce Of Prevention
Another best practice of crisis management is to learn from others and apply those lessons to your own situation.

Dr. Soumi Eachempati is a former professor of surgery and public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. In April 2020, he returned to Weill Cornell in a volunteer position in the Covid ICU. He is the co-founder, CEO & CMO of CLEARED4.

Prepare Now

He said, “The games can be played, but the IOC needs to prepare now. Canceling the games is not necessary to maintain safety. The many sports leagues that have been playing (MLB, NBA, English Premier League, etc.) have shown that competitive sports can be performed safely if requirements are met.

Required Vaccinations
“There are many lessons the IOC could take from these leagues. They should require that as many individuals as possible should be vaccinated. For those who can not find a vaccine in their home country due to any reason, the IOC should try to find an international sponsoring organization that will give vaccines to the unvaccinated athletes ahead of time,” he counseled.

Eachempati said, “While Pfizer volunteered to do this, its two-shot component is impractical for this late-stage and the [Johnson & Johnson] one-shot solution would be more practical. Additionally, all athletes should travel to Japan at least 1 week ahead of time and quarantine in their hotels in a bubble before their competition.

Tested Regularly
The athletes “… should be tested with PCR tests regularly (daily for wrestlers, boxers, and high-risk sports) and at least every other day for the other athletes, and then not be allowed to compete if they are positive. Teams should bring extra athletes to accommodate the likelihood of some positive tests,” he advised.

Not The First Time
This would not be the first time the Olympics would have been canceled. According to History.com, since the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, the international sports competition was canceled three times: once during World War I in 1916 and twice during World War II — 1940 and 1944.

The Tokyo Olympics would be number four if organizers follow this best practice of crisis management: the sooner you do the right thing, the better.

Time shall be the best answer.

Today, one of the organizing members of the committee and two players are hurt by the cov-19.

Let us see.

About author

Dr Shailesh Thaker

Dr. Shailesh Thaker is a world-renowned management thinker and trainer on organizational behavior and development. He is the CLO of Knowledge Plus Inc., a highly reputed training firm based in Ahmedabad, India, helping organizations to achieve international benchmarks in management practices.

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