Japan’s Joyless Olympics

Japan’s Joyless Olympics

Two months before the Games start this July, crowds had demonstrated against the Tokyo Olympics. With only a few days left before the opening, concern still lingers in Japan over the feasibility of hosting such a huge event during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. (Getty Images/Yuichi Yamazaki)

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

— Pierre de Couberti (primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894)

BASED on reports, the bulk of Covid-19 vaccines that will arrive in the country are mainly the vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech known as CoronaVac.

People may not know it but some experts are now saying that there is “no point to count a vaccine that is next to useless.”

Latest reports from Singapore’s Ministry of Health said that the city-state isn’t counting people who took the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine in its national count and only people who have taken Moderna and Pfizer Inc. shots are reflected in the overall vaccination numbers.

The reason, it was noted, for the exclusion of CoronaVac-administered individuals is that there is inadequate efficacy data for the Chinese-made vaccine, especially against the contagious Delta variant.

AND now let’s reminisce how a boxer tackles loneliness—similar to what boxing greats like American heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and even our very own featherweight king Luisito Espinosa in their moments of defeat.

Boxing, which has been one of the competitive events of the ancient Greeks when the Games was born at the foot of Mount Olympus, is among the Olympics’ most iconic events: crowds of cheering and jeering spectators metaphorically egging fighters through the pain barrier, culminating on the podium to award battered winners in different weight categories.

Many of the indoor events were moved to Sapporo in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido last year, to avoid Tokyo’s intense heat and humidity. But boxing competitions will remain at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan Hall in the Yokoami neighborhood of Sumida, Tokyo.

Tokyo Olympic organizers just got an important no-confidence vote—from Japan’s emperor, XX, after meeting with local authorities to finally decide to keep fans away.

“At the meeting, it was agreed that in view of the current Covid-19 situation, it will be necessary to reduce the risk of infection by restricting the movement of members of the public,” the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said in a statement. “It has therefore been decided to ask the public to refrain from spectating.”

This is the latest setback for an Olympics that even the country’s deputy prime minister Taro Aso has called norowareta, or “cursed.”

Overseas spectators have already been barred from attending. Two weeks ago, organizers said they would allow limited numbers of domestic fans, with attendances capped at 10,000 or 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller.

But as coronavirus infections rise in Tokyo, they have been forced to rethink that decision. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to extend a “quasi state of emergency” to cover Tokyo during the Games, with renewed restrictions on restaurants and bars.

This week, Kyodo News reported that all events taking place in large stadiums—and all events ending after 9:00 in the morning—are likely to take place without any fans. That would include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as the track and field program.

And even the boxing bouts would equally suffer as only a few audiences will be able to cheer the fighters. But organizers have already said that VIP guests will not count as spectators, and the Asahi newspaper said they would be exempt from the spectator ban. Organizers are expected to announce their decision about fans after a meeting with the International Olympic Committee that is likely to take place today or tomorrow.

The Olympics, in short, are shaping up to be a largely made-for-TV affair, with only a few bigwigs and media representatives in attendance for many of the most dramatic moments. For the ordinary people of Tokyo, though, it will probably be a rather less joyful affair, with many ticket holders, who won their places in fiercely competitive raffles, likely to be disappointed.

Nor will there be much of a celebration as the Olympic torch finally wends its way to Tokyo after a four-month journey around Japan that has been badly disrupted by the pandemic.

The Tokyo metropolitan government said the relay would be taken off public roads for most of its final 15-day leg around the capital prefecture, apart from some legs taking place on small islands.

Organizers insist the Games will be safe and secure, and they are trying to keep competitors, officials and media representatives largely enclosed in a bubble to prevent them from introducing new infections into Japan. The vast majority will also be vaccinated and will be frequently tested while in the country.

But already two Ugandans, one athlete and a coach, and one Serbian competitor have tested positive for the coronavirus after entering the country. The Ugandans had already been vaccinated. Twelve Olympic staff members have also tested positive for the virus this month, including two that work at the Olympic Village, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The fact is that Japan’s hosting the Games will be considered by most as a “joyless Olympics”—due mainly to the country’s hyper-cautious bureaucracy and slow vaccine rollout. (ai/mtvn)

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