first_imgSo the coronavirus that’s currently plaguing China, South Korea, Iran and Italy has a globe preparing for the worst. Jamaica has no reported cases so far, but Florida, commonly referred to as Kingston 21, is now grappling with three reported cases this week. The United States has another 213 reported cases and 11 deaths across 13 states. Realistically, it feels like only a matter of time before it travels to our shores.Speaking with a group of local journalists this week, their biggest concern was being asked to cover the Games from Tokyo. One joked that he would gladly write his reports from the comforts of his TV screen. I reminded him that the virus may be here long before May when the International Olympic Committee decides on whether the Games will proceed.The truth is, these viruses have been plaguing our globe for quite some time. With the world’s population now travelling much more than any other generation in history, and living closer together due to urbanisation, the increased incidence of outbreaks of SARS, Ebola, chik-V, Zika, and now the ­coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19 as it has been termed, becomes inevitable. We will likely face more global epidemics for years to come when one adds climate changes to the mix. Obviously, an event like the Olympic Games with some 12,000 athletes expected to participate would raise significant concerns about the swift transfer of the illness across the globe.But we’ve been here before, and I believe athletes have to stay squarely within the mind frame of solid preparation. Reigning 110m hurdles Olympic champion Omar McLeod shared with me earlier this week that his training was in full swing and he isn’t even considering a cancellation. He reminded me there were concerns around the Zika virus for the 2016 Olympics as well. In 2016, health concerns over the Zika virus at that time caused many athletes to withdraw from the Games, while spectators cancelled in droves. Reports suggested Brazil’s tourism industry lost over $7b leading up to the Games. In response to the outbreak, the Brazilian Government added 2,000 healthcare professionals to help during the Games. As it turned out, the Games did go on, and it was much ado about nothing, “There has been no laboratory confirmed cases of Zika virus in spectators, athletes or anyone associated with the Olympics,” the World Health Organization said on its website following the Rio Olympic.But for 2020, Japan has a more dangerous virus to contend with, and bigger financial implications. Various calculations have placed Japan’s preparations at over US$26 billion, more than tripling the initial costs presented to the International Olympic Committee in 2013.For broadcasters who have invested heavily in acquiring TV rights and who have already ­procured advertising and sponsorship dollars, their broadcast ­preparation and promotional events are at stake. For NBC Universal, who paid US$7.7 billion for the US Olympic rights through to 2032, it’s business as usual.Brian Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, NBC Universal’s parent company, said at a press conference this week, “What I know is, it’s full steam ahead. We’re getting ready. We’re excited.”Caribbean rights holders SportsMax are also of a similar mindset. CEO Olly McIntosh commented, “As the Rights Broadcast Holders, we are in full planning and execution mode working with broadcasters and the NOCs”. Still, he is responsibly cautious: “We are obviously aware of the potential impact and the precautions that need to be taken – as we assume are the IOC – who as of now has stated the Games will begin on July 24.”The slogan of the 2020 Olympic Games, as announced by the IOC in February, is ‘United by Emotions’. Let’s see. Tanya Lee is lead strategist at LEEP Sports Marketing. She is also an athlete publicist and brand manager.last_img