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  • Reverend James Squire

Bioethics and the Olympics



It says something about the German people when people remark that all the trains run on time. Germany is a fact-based engineer country. When we think of innovation and creativity in the world of computers, we think of Japan.


The summer Olympics are right around the corner. Going ahead with the Olympics, postponing them, or cancelling them again has forced others in the Japanese government and Olympic Committee to make a difficult decision.


From what I have read there seem to be several factors that were considered. It would be next to impossible for the athletes to be put on hold for another year. If it is postponed there is no guarantee that Covid would be at such a level to make sure that the Olympics would not be a super spreader event. Should fans and family be permitted to come to the Olympics with the possibility that they could take the virus back to their home country and further complicate the global pandemic? What about money? Is that driving the decision? In the words of Jerry Maquire!” “Show me the money!


Who benefits from proceeding the way that the competition will be done and who is penalized?


There is a hard question that provides a context for the above speculation. Why didn’t Japan get a high percentage of their people vaccinated?


The group that seems to be the most valued is the athletes themselves. There will be testing for every athlete. Every athlete was tested as well before they even arrived. Right decision #1.


Fans and family are banned from attending which is the responsible thing to do to limit exposure to other places in the world. The Delta variant is on the rise. This response is seen in the bioethics decision making model as do in the short term what will help you in the long term. Right decision #2.


The merchants in Japan will not be able to capitalize on the crowd which would spend a great deal of money. This is the cause and effect of banning visitors. It comes under a system called Consequentialism. This would be a right decision #3 if there was a fund to compensate businesses and individuals in order to keep their economic recovery moving forward. We forget that when seasons are cancelled in our country that it is the workers at shops and in the stadium hawking their wares that are affected the most. What constitutes justice for these people? We could use the justice and mercy paradigm to address this issue.


For the athletes it is about sport, but for the sponsors if is about money generated from advertisers. The decision to go ahead without fans is relatively recent. We have to see how that plays out. However, TV profits will definitely go up since that will be the only way to see the Olympics.


I always taught mt ethics students to pay attention to context, meaning everything that surrounds a decision. The elephant in the room is the question of why Japan didn’t have everyone vaccinated before the event. When I think of the Japanese people I think of intelligence and innovation. What I didn’t realize is that the Japanese people are vaccination adverse. In a newspaper survey 40% of the people were committed to getting the vaccine whereas 60% said that they “would wait and see in terms of side effects.”


What the world forgot to do is take in the larger context for the Olympics. Japan is a risk adverse nation when it comes to vaccine. They recently banned the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer where data across the globe reflected the positive effects.


The Japanese people would be more likely to be vaccinated if the vaccine was developed in Japan. The Japanese thought that too few Japanese people were subjects in the trials. This is a trust issue. Japan has the lowest rate of vaccine confidence than anyone else in the world.


Context is a compelling decision-making player. Black people still remember how the government sponsored Tuskegee Experiment where treatment for Syphilis was withheld from black men to see how the disease progressed.


Side effects are two important words to the Japanese people because of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It makes sense to me why the Japanese are taking a wait and see approach. People don’t forget a horrible experience in the past. Culture keeps it moving around in the soul and psyche.


The final decision to go ahead, in my opinion, was based not in the greatest good for sponsors, merchants, and those who wanted to attend. Utilitarianism is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people in an identified group. Officials chose the most important group to be the athletes which makes it the right decision. This also defines the Via Media Ethic. It is not ideal. Some may feel that it is the wrong decision, but others could argue that it is necessary or “the lesser of two evils.” The officials, in my opinion, made the right decision #4.


Whether it be the Holocaust, Tuskegee, or the dropping of the bomb, horrific events live on our cultural mindset and context. We forget that at our own peril.



The Bioethics of Going Ahead with the Olympics Jim Squire July 16, 2021


It says something about the German people when people remark that all the trains run on time. Germany is a fact-based engineer country. When we think of innovation and creativity in the world of computers, we think of Japan.


The summer Olympics are right around the corner. Going ahead with the Olympics, postponing them, or cancelling them again has forced others in the Japanese government and Olympic Committee to make a difficult decision.


From what I have read there seem to be several factors that were considered. It would be next to impossible for the athletes to be put on hold for another year. If it is postponed there is no guarantee that Covid would be at such a level to make sure that the Olympics would not be a super spreader event. Should fans and family be permitted to come to the Olympics with the possibility that they could take the virus back to their home country and further complicate the global pandemic? What about money? Is that driving the decision? In the words of Jerry Maquire!” “Show me the money!


Who benefits from proceeding the way that the competition will be done and who is penalized?


There is a hard question that provides a context for the above speculation. Why didn’t Japan get a high percentage of their people vaccinated?


The group that seems to be the most valued is the athletes themselves. There will be testing for every athlete. Every athlete was tested as well before they even arrived. Right decision #1.


Fans and family are banned from attending which is the responsible thing to do to limit exposure to other places in the world. The Delta variant is on the rise. This response is seen in the bioethics decision making model as do in the short term what will help you in the long term. Right decision #2.


The merchants in Japan will not be able to capitalize on the crowd which would spend a great deal of money. This is the cause and effect of banning visitors. It comes under a system called Consequentialism. This would be a right decision #3 if there was a fund to compensate businesses and individuals in order to keep their economic recovery moving forward. We forget that when seasons are cancelled in our country that it is the workers at shops and in the stadium hawking their wares that are affected the most. What constitutes justice for these people? We could use the justice and mercy paradigm to address this issue.


For the athletes it is about sport, but for the sponsors if is about money generated from advertisers. The decision to go ahead without fans is relatively recent. We have to see how that plays out. However, TV profits will definitely go up since that will be the only way to see the Olympics.


I always taught mt ethics students to pay attention to context, meaning everything that surrounds a decision. The elephant in the room is the question of why Japan didn’t have everyone vaccinated before the event. When I think of the Japanese people I think of intelligence and innovation. What I didn’t realize is that the Japanese people are vaccination adverse. In a newspaper survey 40% of the people were committed to getting the vaccine whereas 60% said that they “would wait and see in terms of side effects.”


What the world forgot to do is take in the larger context for the Olympics. Japan is a risk adverse nation when it comes to vaccine. They recently banned the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer where data across the globe reflected the positive effects.


The Japanese people would be more likely to be vaccinated if the vaccine was developed in Japan. The Japanese thought that too few Japanese people were subjects in the trials. This is a trust issue. Japan has the lowest rate of vaccine confidence than anyone else in the world.


Context is a compelling decision-making player. Black people still remember how the government sponsored Tuskegee Experiment where treatment for Syphilis was withheld from black men to see how the disease progressed.


Side effects are two important words to the Japanese people because of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It makes sense to me why the Japanese are taking a wait and see approach. People don’t forget a horrible experience in the past. Culture keeps it moving around in the soul and psyche.


The final decision to go ahead, in my opinion, was based not in the greatest good for sponsors, merchants, and those who wanted to attend. Utilitarianism is based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people in an identified group. Officials chose the most important group to be the athletes which makes it the right decision. This also defines the Via Media Ethic. It is not ideal. Some may feel that it is the wrong decision, but others could argue that it is necessary or “the lesser of two evils.” The officials, in my opinion, made the right decision #4.


Whether it be the Holocaust, Tuskegee, or the dropping of the bomb, horrific events live on our cultural mindset and context. We forget this at our own peril.

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