People around the world were in deep anticipation and were excited for the Tokyo Olympics, which were supposed to be held last year. After all, new competitions like the 3×3 basketball, freestyle BMX and Madison cycling were to be introduced. Softball and basketball were making a return along with the introduction of other games like karate, surfing etc.
It is improbable that we will see another postponement, especially with the elections in Japan nearing. However, the COVID situation in Japan has forced the Government to impose a fresh state of emergency which has let down many athletes and fans around the world.
It is quite interesting to see how the Tokyo Olympics will be conducted in the COVID atmosphere where strict measures and guidelines prevail. There has been a ban on spectators in stadiums, and spectators from abroad have also been banned. They have been encouraged to stay at home, watch the Olympics on the television and support the athletes with their viewership.
There is a possibility that some of the venues outside the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area might make an exception and allow for a certain percentage of visitors. However, we are definitely not likely to see the excitement of torch relays and promotional events this time.
Many athletes have felt discouraged by the absence of spectators. In fact, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Serena Williams, among others, have decided to not participate in the Tokyo Olympics this time. Hence, the excitement for the Olympics has taken quite a hit. The organizing committees for the Olympics are soon to hold discussions with the stakeholders about the state of emergency that prevails in Japan.
The COVID Situation in Japan
This is the 4th covid related emergency declared in Japan. Infections are still on the rise, with a shortage of beds in the hospital. The vaccination drive right now is focusing mainly on the elderly population. The vaccination rate has not been quite good as there have been many issues with the supply of vaccines.
While Japan certainly hasn’t experienced the scale of infections seen in the US, the UK, Brazil and India, the recent Delta variant has been a huge cause of concern. Many states are under quasi emergency, and several restrictions have been imposed on bars and restaurants.
The attendance at large events has also been restricted to at least 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity and with a strict focus on following all the necessary social distancing guidelines.
Tourism has surely taken a hit and affected Japan’s economy. Apart from the expectation of foreign spectators flocking to Japan for the Olympics, August is usually the time when tourists flock to Japan for the Bon day. During this family reunion holiday, the Japanese people visit their hometowns or popular tourist spots.
The Tokyo Olympics was an opportunity for Japan to display its resilience against the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis experienced in the past. However, it seems that the current situation has curbed this possibility.