July 23, 2021

Olympic Games Begin

“The Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. local time in Japan on Friday, July 23.” NBC Sports

Many on both sides criticize the Japanese government and the IOC, and wonder whether the games should have been delayed or canceled:

“The Tokyo Olympic fiasco didn’t start with the coronavirus pandemic. When Tokyo was elevated from candidate city to host, the two bid architects, Japan Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda and Masato Mizuno, chairman of the global Mizuno Sports Equipment Co., were jettisoned for political reasons. Their replacements, politicians Yoshiro Mori and Toshiro Muto, were neither sportsmen nor businessmen. So when the pandemic forced a one-year postponement of Tokyo 2020, there was no one capable of gathering the reins and salvaging the Olympics…

“While Israel was buying up enough vaccines to return to normalcy, Tokyo 2020, in step with the International Olympic Committee and fighting to preserve its brand, was instead concocting a series of ‘Playbooks’ whose goal was to protect unvaccinated Japanese from foreign Olympic participants, most of whom would be vaccinated… An official at the Japanese Embassy in Washington summed up the entire control effort up in 10 words: ‘Lack of information. Lack of instructions. Confusing information. Confusing instructions.’”
Jonathan Kolatch, Wall Street Journal

“Tokyoites regarded the idea of hosting with skepticism from the very beginning… In the lead-up to the Olympic selection, the approval rating for the idea of hosting the Games in Tokyo was the lowest of any of the candidate cities—in 2012, at the climax of the government’s efforts to secure the rights to the 2020 Games, just forty-seven per cent of those polled in Japan said that they wanted them, as compared with seventy-eight per cent public support in the rival city of Madrid…

“The irony is that, when the opening ceremony commences, on Friday, the Games will become a collective nightmare. Tokyo is currently recording covid-19 cases at alarmingly high levels; Wednesday’s eighteen hundred and thirty-two cases represent a number not seen since January, before the introduction of vaccines to the country. While these Olympics might well go down as the least wanted in history, they will have succeeded in bringing a nation together, just not quite in the way that their organizers envisioned. The spectre of infection links the citizens of Tokyo in a far more intimate way than the people of any host city before: boosters and critics, participants and avoiders alike, watching, waiting, and hoping for the best.”
Matt Alt, New Yorker

“In some ways, this reminds me of the Zika outbreak in Brazil during the 2016 Olympics, with one key distinction. Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which doesn’t spread through direct human contact. Eliminate the mosquitoes and you eliminate the transmission risk, and that strategy appeared to work five years ago. With COVID-19, and especially with the now-dominant Delta variant, the virus transmits rapidly through dense human populations…

“All of this raises a question: why not just wait until next year to hold the Olympics? It got postponed last year in the first wave of the pandemic when the dominant virus was the original SARS-Co-19 variant rather than the more transmissible Delta variant. By next year, we can expect much better vaccination levels worldwide and especially in Japan. If the Olympiad could survive a delay, why not delay it until better preparation could prevent the kind of issues these games have already seen — before the games even begin?”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“You have to feel badly for Japan. Last year the Olympics were cancelled due to the pandemic leaving Japan in the unenviable position of host without a party. Determined to hold onto its role, the Japanese government put together intense health and safety protocols, including a testing and quarantining regimen, social distancing, solo living quarters and other measures that turned the Olympic Village into a sealed container…

“The result has been disappointing for athletes and has created global scrutiny over what could end up being a super spreader event. The International Olympic Committee has pressed forward, dispatching its chairman to Hiroshima for the obligatory announcement of peace. But his visit was met with protests. That should be a warning sign. So maybe it is time to call it quits. Truth be told, the reason the Games should never have gone forward is that the citizens of the host nation doesn't want them. Over 80 percent of Japanese citizens want the games cancelled. Olympic competition is a way for a nation to express pride in hosting international games. If the nation does not want it, there is little reason to hold it.”
Tara D. Sonenshine, The Hill

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