2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics

Mar 30 | Evan | No Comments |

Even though it will be held in 2021, the official website says “2020” so…. yeah…

What is the reality of having the Olympics during the pandemic 

With the COVID vaccines gradually becoming more available around the world, we are slowly, but steadily regaining hope in life. With that said, Japan is facing an extremely difficult task of holding an Olympics during the pandemic. Originally planned for the 2020 summer, Tokyo Olympics is now scheduled to be held in the 2021 summer. Despite over 80% of Japanese people opposing the Olympics to be held in the country this year, it is now official that the summer Olympics is going to be held in Tokyo in July and August. Let’s learn how things are going with the Olympics during the pandemic and how unprecedented it has been.

From the Tokyo 2020 site https://www.olympic.org/tokyo-2020

March 25th 2021, the Olympics torch-relay started 

On March 25th 2021, the Tokyo Olympics torch-relay started from Fukushima Prefecture. Usually, the Olympics torch-relays are more like festivals that a lot of spectators fill the streets where the relay runners run with the torch. However, because of the pandemic, everything about this torch-relay is unprecedented. For example, there is barely anybody on the streets to cheer for the relay runners. Except for the officials, nobody else could join the opening ceremony and those who were at the opening ceremony had to sit with social distance. 

In the past several months, many Japanese celebrities who were supposed to be a part of torch-relay canceled their participation due to scheduling conflicts. Many on the surface say that, but the reality is not that simple. Some celebrities who have canceled their participation are more honest and clear about where they stand that they have indicated their disagreement and disappointment about the Olympics to be held during the pandemic as they feel there are other priorities for the country of Japan and Japanese people to deal with during the pandemic. 

With only 16% or so Japanese people favoring the Olympics to be held in the 2021 summer, there were also protests happening on March 25th at the train stations. Usually the festive torch-relay is not as festive nor welcomed by Japanese. It’s hard to imagine where this will go with these kinds of reactions among Japanese. How can Japan hold the Olympics and Paralympics this summer? 

No international spectators for Tokyo Olympics

How many of you were hoping to be in Japan for the Olympics? Were you thinking about joining the photo tour of Japan around the time of the Olympics so that as well as touring Japan, you could enjoy the Olympics at the arenas? 

Well, unfortunately, for this year’s summer Tokyo Olympics, international spectators cannot be watching the events in Tokyo. Yes, it’s so disappointing, but with the notion of “safe Olympics for everyone,” the Japanese Olympics Committee, Tokyo government, Japanese government, IOC and IPC agreed that it is difficult to secure safe and free entrance to the country during the pandemic, thus decided to have no international spectators for this Olympics at the meeting on March 20th, 2021. 

So for the Tokyo Olympics, the only people who will be able to attend in person are the Japanese people as well as some sponsors and the country representatives. The number of people who are allowed to be at the arenas will be decided in the following month in April. This means, all the tickets purchased by international spectators, which equal to 600,000 tickets for the Olympics and 30,000 for the Paralympics will be refunded. Furthermore, most likely there will be a number of restrictions for Japanese spectators too, thus more tickets will be refunded. Yes, this Olympics is becoming more and more expensive than originally anticipated. Regardless of the Olympics happening this year or not, Tokyo is facing a tremendous amount of deficit already. 

woman sitting on luggage

No Athletes from Canada

On March 22nd 2021, Canada has decided that they are not sending players to Japan for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. There are no other countries which have followed Canada at this moment, but we have to respect the position Canada took. The reality is, even without such official announcements from other countries, each country is struggling with the pandemic that nobody really knows even at this point if the Olympics is really possible, but also beneficial for them. Over in Europe in France, the starting of the Olympics torch-relay was briefly mentioned at the end of the news, but not getting barely any interest. With so many people being infected by the new variants, nobody is relaxed with the pandemic, thus there is not much interest or energy to be spared for the Olympics at the moment. 

Over 50 official Olympics goods stores have closed

Holding an Olympics during the pandemic creates all sorts of problems that nobody anticipated. Something, which caught a lot of Japanese people’s eyes in the 3rd and 4th week of March is the closing of the official goods stores around the country. 

As of March 26th 2021, 50 official Olympics goods stores have closed around Japan. Even though some stores may reopen leading up to the Olympics in the next few months, Japanese people are not buying enough goods for the official stores to remain open during the pandemic. In reality, just like people around the world, Japanese people are now more than ever questioning the purpose of the Olympics as well as the meaning of holding the Olympics during the pandemic. 

illuminated tower

The Tokyo Olympics is around the corner. As of March 26th 2021, the Olympics will be held in 118 days regardless of how the majority of Japanese people think about it. As highlighted above, these issues the Tokyo Olympics face are not minor. Having delayed a year already, there have been a lot of obstacles that everyone involved have to face. In addition, these obstacles also cost a fortune. With a year delay, Tokyo, which is holding the Olympics, is spending significantly more money than originally budgeted. 

Usually a happy excited sporting event of the Olympics is a huge debate among Japanese today in this pandemic because many believe the Olympics is not the priority during COVID. Many believe the taxpayers’ money should be spent for all Japanese who are struggling, not for the Olympics. We wonder why, who is benefiting from having this Olympics this year. What is the purpose? 

Do you talk about the Olympics with your family and friends? Who is excited about the Olympics in Tokyo this year? Let us know what you think!