Tuesday, September 21, 2021
SportOther SportsTokyo girds for a surreal Olympics, and questions are plenty

Tokyo girds for a surreal Olympics, and questions are plenty

Published: 19th Jul 2021 8:58 pm

Tokyo: After a yearlong delay and months of hand-wringing that rippled across a pandemic-inflected world, a Summer Games unlike any other is at hand. It’s an Olympics, sure, but also, in a very real way, something quite different.

- Advertisement -

No foreign fans. No local attendance in Tokyo-area venues. Athletes and their entourages confined to a quasi-bubble, under threat of deportation. Government minders and monitoring apps trying — in theory, at least — to track visitors’ every move. Alcohol curtailed or banned. Cultural exchanges, the kind that power the on-the-ground energy of most Games, completely absent.

And running like an electric current through it all: the inescapable knowledge of the suffering and sense of displacement that Covid-19 has ushered in, both here and around the world. All signs point to an utterly surreal and atomised Games, one that will divide Japan into two worlds during the month of Olympics and Paralympics competition.

On one side, most of Japan’s largely unvaccinated, increasingly resentful populace will continue soldiering on through the worst pandemic to hit the globe in a century, almost entirely separated from the spectacle of the Tokyo Games aside from what they see on TV. Illness and recovery, work and play, both curtailed by strict virus restrictions: Life, such as it is, will go on here. Meanwhile, in massive (and massively expensive) locked-down stadiums, vaccinated super-athletes, and the legions of reporters, IOC officials, volunteers and handlers that make the Games go, will do their best to concentrate on sports served up to a rapt and remote audience of billions.

Since the pandemic cancelled the originally scheduled version in 2020, the Japanese media have been obsessed with the Games. Will they really happen? If so, what will they look like? And the endlessly fascinating — shocking, really, to many here — prospect of staging an Olympics during what can seem like a slow-motion national disaster has permeated the society nearly as thoroughly as the virus.

“The mindset that the Olympics can be pushed through by force and that everyone should obey the order has invited this mess,” the Asahi newspaper said in a recent editorial. IOC and Japanese officials “should learn that their absurdity has deepened the public distrust in the Olympics.”

Of course, it’s too early to predict what, exactly, will happen when these cross-currents converge during the Games, as about 15,000 athletes and, by some estimates, nearly 70,000 officials, media and other participants insert themselves into the flow of Tokyo life in sequestered and limited, yet ubiquitous, ways.

Will the normally hospitable Japanese people warm to the visitors or become increasingly infuriated as they watch fully vaccinated guests enjoy freedoms they haven’t experienced since early 2020? Will the Olympians and others play by the rules meant to protect the country they’re visiting? Will they bring in variants that will spread through Japan?

Will the effort to vanquish the coronavirus be impeded? One thing seems certain: These games will have far less of what the world has come to expect from the Olympics, with its attractive mixture of human competition at the highest level amid celebrations and cultural exchanges on the sidelines by fans, athletes and local people.

Also read:

Covid scare: Journalists face strict restrictions in Tokyo

Tokyo Olympics: Two athletes test positive for COVID-19 in Games Village


Now you can get handpicked stories from Telangana Today on Telegram everyday. Click the link to subscribe.

Click to follow Telangana Today Facebook page and Twitter .


Also Read

- Advertisement -

Latest News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
Telangana Today