2021 has progressed unusually so far. Soaring COVID cases, bubbling global economic crisis and an undisturbed Tokyo Olympics 2020 event that captured the world’s attention for 16 days; all co-existing and making humanity’s ways of operating look confusing.
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 did not see the light of the day due to the raging pandemic that had spread itself across all nations. For Japan, postponing an event like the prestigious Olympics was a particularly hard decision to make. The investment and the preparations that the Japanese government had put in were astronomical. A whopping $15.4 Bn, would seem like a big investment in a time when global health and economic tensions are at its peak. And yet, Japan pulled off the 2021 Olympics amidst a tense atmosphere prevailing across the world, and especially in the host country.
A Global Market Research Corporation Ipsos released data from a poll it conducted in 28 countries and learned that 43% population globally agreed that the Olympics in Japan should take place even though the pandemic continues to be a problem. In Japan, polls displayed glaringly that the Japanese population had zero consent for the Tokyo Olympics to take place. The public protested and criticized the government for showing little consideration for the raging health crisis.
Another big reason for public unrest was due to slow vaccination rates in Japan. The Japanese government noticed during the 1st wave that the COVID-19 rules imposed on the population seemed to work in keeping the virus at bay. But when the second wave entered the borders like an illegal immigrant, the government was under prepared and lagged in securing vaccines for its people. The government says that about 25.5% of Japanese have received the vaccination thus far, but the percentage seems unsatisfactory in keeping the virus under control.
The Japanese government led by Yoshihide Suga is facing harsh criticism for prioritizing a sporting event like the Tokyo Olympics over people’s health. But a percentage of Japanese people and the leaders of the country believe that hosting the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is symbolic of recovery from the disastrous Tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and claimed 19,000 lives. Japan’s bid for the Olympics took place just two years after the disaster, 2013 and it was a very important yet calculated decision.
The postponement of the Olympics event in 2020 gave Japan a sense of pseudo-loss and it is quite evident that the Japanese are set out to host the Tokyo Olympics to re-assume their position in the global economy. The public’s concern that the Olympics could become a super spreader event for the Corona Virus did not seem to stop the government from hosting the event.
The pressure from the International Olympic Committee also loomed over Japan since they were warned of getting penalized in case of an event cancellation. The committee also had its own motives to push aggressively for hosting the Tokyo Olympic 2020 event. Due to the massive media coverage and broadcasting revenue that it gets, IOC would be bereft of money and attention. With Japan’s hands tied, hosting the Olympics became a sacrosanct.
Since the start of July, the Tokyo Olympics Village witnessed a total of 430 cases of COVID-19.
Now, with the Tokyo Olympics 2020 marking its end on August 8, there seems to be a sense of relief among the masses but a fear of faster virus spreading still lingers. On the contrary, the participants and athletes are full of gratitude for being met with incredible hospitality and for having experienced a sense of togetherness during such a fearful time.