The many narratives of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


The Olympic Games are about narratives that transcend time. They erase the myths of sports in winning athletes who dominate their sports, and in losing competitors who face defeat but never give up courage or determination. Sports tell stories about a host nation’s aspirations, which can range from recovery, renewal and elevation of international standing to a celebration of unique cultural traditions. The Olympics measure the heat of the geopolitical moment. Their diagnosis fills us with hope when they reaffirm our ability to transcend national divisions, or with dread when the Games will be compromised internationally.

Like its predecessors, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is an incubator for novels. But these Olympics are like no other. A year later than scheduled in 2021, and with a sports brand debuting for 2020, not only is the narrative incubator running longer, but the storyline is more moving. As the Olympic Games are the first of their kind to be hosted during the pandemic, Tokyo 2020 will provide an account of the match between science versus the virus (and provide a notebook of massive resource disparities between nations in their access to COVID-19 vaccines). It will measure the rift between the United States under President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping. Tokyo 2020, which hosted just six months before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, will provide ammunition for the emerging focal point of the strategic rivalry between the United States and China: the efficiency of democracy versus authoritarianism. But the story Japan wants to tell the world has also shifted profoundly from winning the 2020 bid in 2013 to the actual games. Sure, recovery is still the headline, but from what? While Japan has a strong case to make for its national efforts to rebuild from the triple disaster (2011 earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear accident), no such assertion is possible yet in the midst of the world’s battle against COVID-19.

As we quickly approach the opening ceremony on July 23, Tokyo is once again under a state of emergency to help curb the spread of COVID-19, and much is at stake for the Japanese government and Olympic organizers to ensure the Games are conducted safely for athletes, staff and host city residents. However, many experts remain concerned that not enough is being done to prevent the games from turning into a super-fast event, especially as Japan sees Slight increase in cases Again this month and a spike in the delta variable locally. For example, vaccination launch in Japan has been slow due to limited vaccine supplies, shortages of doctors and nurses, and its own bureaucratic process; Currently 22% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated And 34% got at least one shot. Although vaccinations have meant easing restrictions and a return to some sense of normalcy in places like the United States, this will not be the case for Japan in time for the Olympics. It will take a few weeks before the majority of the population is fully vaccinated, leaving the Japanese population vulnerable to infection during the Games. As a result, organizers will need to rely heavily on science-based disease mitigation efforts, which will ensure that Tokyo 2020 looks like no other in history.

Although foreign spectators have been banned from attending the games for weeks, it was announced last week that nearly all domestic spectators will also be banned. 96% of competitions will be closed For the masses, who allow viewers to do so in a limited capacity. Meanwhile, for athletes, there has been strict measures In place to monitor signs of illness, such as daily testing, and mask requirements in the Olympic Village even if it has been vaccinated. Emergencies like a “Fever Clinic” With isolation rooms where PCR tests can be carried out and an “isolation hotel” arranged outside the village. Whether these and other precautions will be sufficient to stem the spread during the Games is not yet clear, but frequent announcements of injuries among staff and competitors are not encouraging.

The Olympics are the prime season for diplomacy. However, there is a beat and rhythm specific to the Tokyo Games. The main line of Japanese diplomatic efforts over the past year has been to win a vote of confidence from world leaders on Japan’s ability to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and deliver a safe Olympics. That was the feeling he conveyed G20 Leaders Statement in November 2020Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Personal visit to the White House in April – the first by a foreign leader in the Biden administration – and G7 statement last month. But there will be no rapid diplomatic activity during these games. The attendance of foreign leaders will be minimal, and the chances that the Olympics will provide the spark of a diplomatic breakthrough are low. South Korean and Japanese diplomats quarrel over Possibility to host a leadership meeting اجتماع If South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to attend the Games; In the end, mon I decided not to come. Neither Biden nor Xi will travel to Tokyo, yet the geopolitical rift of the two superpowers will frame the Games — not only because of the intense focus on the efficiency of democracies as an asset in strategic competition, but also because of the looming possibility of a boycott of Beijing 2022 due to human rights abuses.

Each Olympic Games tells a story about the trajectory of the host nation and its dreams for the future. Tokyo 2020’s initial ambition was to demonstrate Japan’s resilience and recovery from the triple disaster caused by nature’s wrath and bureaucratic inefficiency. The then prime minister, Shinzo Abe, saw the Olympics as the culmination of his prime ministership, destined to tell the world that Japan is back. But Abe abruptly resigned last summer due to illness and his right hand Yoshihide Suga has been appointed as his successor. Today, the intended message is that the world has never been before COVID-19. But the gamble that a safe Olympics can be achieved is not lost on the Japanese public still deeply skeptical of the wisdom of moving forward, with two-thirds of respondents to an Asahi TV poll in late June expressing this. Disbelief that the government can provide “safe and secure” games. The political stakes are very different. The Olympics are no longer a crowning event but a true test of Suga’s ability to stay at the helm of the country when he faces voters later this fall. The odds are tough given the significant decline in public support for his administration (The general approval rate is 31%., down three percentage points from June). The question then remains: Will Tokyo 2020 revolve around the narrative of renewal that Japan aspires to, given the fraught domestic political and diplomatic environment?

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