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Olympia 2021 in Tokyo and Corona: When even the Japanese take to the streets

2021-07-21T17:59:43.465Z

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin this week - against the will of many Japanese. They fear a new corona wave, even without an audience. There are some strange rules in place.



Read the video transcript here

In a few days, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will start a year late.

The opening ceremony will take place on Friday - due to the corona pandemic in a stadium with empty stands.

Felix Lill, SPIEGEL reporter:

“So the euphoria that the organizers were hoping for is actually not being felt.

Many people, when I talk to my personal contacts now, are no longer enthusiastic about the topic.

They just shake their heads.

There's a lot of resignation there.

Because this event just takes place, although most people actually don't want it and have not wanted it for a year and a half.

Since the pandemic started. "


According to surveys, a majority of Japanese would have liked the Summer Games to be postponed again or canceled entirely.

They fear that the Olympics will become a superspreading event.

Because with athletes, supervisors and officials, around 100,000 people come to Tokyo.

Yoshizo Watanabe, protester:

“I'm worried.

There will be many people from different countries.

I don't blame them, but risks like that from the delta variant become greater.

So I am clearly in favor of canceling the games. "


Yukari, protester:

“The people in Japan are terrified.

But the government doesn't explain anything, doesn't give us any scientific reasons.

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that our Prime Minister cannot and will not explain himself. "


Felix Lill:

»It's not the usual way of resolving conflicts, taking to the streets in the country and protesting loudly.

So yes, that's an indicator that quite a few people are pretty angry when you have even hundreds on the street and see protesting against these games. "


But the IOC and the Japanese government pull through the Olympics anyway.

They refer to the strict rules.

Masa Takaya, spokesman for the organizing committee:

"For the IOC and Tokyo 2020 it is clear that it is safe to live in the Olympic village."


Even before the start, however, there were the first infections within the Olympic Village.

The organizers are now trying to emphasize that the cases are quickly identified and narrowed down.

But there are also loopholes in the rules.

Felix Lill, SPIEGEL reporter:

»As one of the journalists, I can judge it.

You have very strict rules for two weeks.

At the same time - but because you are not allowed to eat in the hotel at the beginning because that is considered too dangerous - you can then leave the hotel for 15 minutes to buy something to eat.

And rules like that, which intuitively don't make much sense at first - there are quite a few of them. "


So there remains a risk for the Japanese population.

Felix Lill, SPIEGEL reporter:

»At the beginning of last week, the president of the Japanese medical women organization said that it is an affront to the attempt to save lives to hold these Olympic Games now.

She is relatively convinced that the virus is being passed on very clearly here, and there are some people who have this attitude. "


One problem: There are many volunteers working in the Olympic Village who can carry infections into the city.

One of them is already infected.

And in Japan the number of infections is rising extremely quickly anyway, the country is at the beginning of a third wave.

And only around 20 percent of the population have been vaccinated twice.

Athletes only express themselves cautiously.

It's a fine line for them because they also depend on their sponsors.

So it is more the older ones who show strong opinion.

Felix Lill, SPIEGEL reporter:

“In Japan, for example, it's Hitomi Niiya.

This is a long distance runner who has participated in several Olympic Games.

And she once said, for example, that it was still last year, when Corona was already running, that as an athlete, of course, she wants these games, but not as a private person. "


Many Japanese people are surprised that their country is taking this risk, especially because what makes the biggest sporting event in the world is missing anyway: the guests from all over the world.

There is also the financial aspect: the games will be a losing business, that has long been clear.

But then - so the organizers probably think - they should at least take place after the high investments.

There is also a lot of money at stake for television rights and sponsors.

But even here the rejection rises.

Toyota has already jumped off.

The Japanese carmaker will not show any advertising spots related to the Olympics - probably because of the skepticism among the population.

And then the strained Japanese relationship with China also plays a role.

Felix Lill, SPIEGEL reporter:

“The Japanese government declared relatively quickly that these games should mark the victory of humanity over the pandemic. It doesn't look like that at all, of course. Why are these games taking place anyway? On the one hand, it is cited as a declaration, but of course it has not been officially stated by the government either, that it wants to avoid that afterwards China receives this declaration of the victory of mankind over the pandemic, when Beijing hosts the Winter Games in 2022. In this respect, it might be painful for the rather nationalist Japanese government if Japan can't do that and China can. "


So the Olympics will once again become a political competition. The next few weeks will show what health price Japan will have to pay for this.

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-07-21

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