COMMENTARY: How the coronavirus has changed daily life in Asia

TOKYO — Imagine how disappointing it would be for Canadian hockey fans if the entire NHL playoffs were played in empty arenas or cancelled entirely.

Or picture the complications that would arise for Canadian parents — and grandparents — if all the kids in Canada were told to stay away from school for one month or more.

What if every major Canadian corporation and every level of government compelled their employees to work remotely or to only get together in two entirely separate groups so that if one group became ill the others could carry on?

Those are among the drastic measures that Japan is implementing or urging its citizens, schools and companies to undertake as the number of people infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus here pushes above 200.

Meanwhile, the number is more than 3,000 in neighbouring South Korea, where all 28,500 U.S. troops are on lockdown in their bases, and nearly 80,000 people are infected in not-so-far-away China.

An official from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee sent me a polite note of apology on Thursday. He had been unable to promptly answer questions I had about the Summer Games that are supposed to begin in late July.

When I had asked him a few days earlier what would happen if the Tokyo Olympics had to be cancelled because of COVID-19, he replied, “A catastrophe.”

Walking away from the US$26-billion Olympic investment is one of many hard decisions with serious international implications that will have to be made. The last date for abandoning the Games in Tokyo or finding a way to postpone them until next year is only 13 weeks away.

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