Tokyo Olympics Start: ‘No interest, no cheer, no joy’ as Olympic Games open to empty stadiums

Tokyo Olympics Start: 'No interest, no cheer, no joy’ as Olympic Games open to empty stadiums
Tokyo Olympics Start: 'No interest, no cheer, no joy’ as Olympic Games open to empty stadiums

Tokyo Olympics Start – Where is the interest & joy? The Tokyo Olympic Games have started but neither there is a joy nor any cheer for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The athletes are in the Village and the world’s media has arrived, but for many in Japan, there’s little festive cheer. Such is the situation, that there are no cheering foreign fans roaming the streets, and athletes are ferried from Village to venue in a bubble meant to keep them and the Japanese public safe from coronavirus – The joy and cheer that Olympic brings to the world & any host city is completely missing.

Tokyo Olympics Start: ‘No interest, no cheer, no joy’ as Olympic Games open to empty stadiums

Tokyo Olympics Start – Where is the interest & joy? Many agency and local media reports suggest, as the local spectators are barred from almost all Games venues, little surprise then that many in Japan are dis-interested in the games.

“It’s completely different from the last Games (in 1964) when the whole city was filled with festive mood,” said 80-year-old Michiko Fukui to a agency as she strolled around the upscale Ginza district on Thursday.

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Tokyo Olympics start but where is the interest & joy?

Tokyo has been wrestling with COVID-19 infection numbers at their highest in six months with the city under its fourth state of emergency.

Delayed for one year due to the pandemic, the 17-day Olympics through Aug. 8 will begin after numerous scandals and missteps, including the dismissal Thursday of a ceremony director over a past joke he made making light of the Holocaust.

Amid renewed worries that the Olympics and Paralympics could turn into a superspreader event that heaps strain on the medical system, there are questions about whether anti-COVID-19 rules will be fully observed.

Most of the Olympic sponsors in Japan have already declared that they will not advertise during the Olympics. Brands like Toyota and others have pulled out their planned Olympic campaigns.

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The city has been adorned with Tokyo 2020 flags and advertising, and futuristic Olympic and Paralympic mascots are plastered on buses and buildings. But there is little else to give away the fact that some of the world’s top athletes have descended on Tokyo from around the globe.

Rising virus cases in the city mean all public viewing events have been scrapped. And a state of emergency means restaurants and bars must close by 8 pm, when the opening ceremony begins, and they are banned from serving alcohol.

Seira Onuma was one of thousands of Japanese who competed to snag tickets in a lottery before the Games were postponed, but now she’s not even sure she’ll watch on TV.

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“I won tickets for the finals of the athletics at the Olympic Stadium,” the 29-year-old housewife told AP. “I was so disappointed by the no-fan decision and now I’m losing interest altogether. I feel like I can’t really wholeheartedly welcome the Olympics and I just don’t really feel any joy in it.”

Satoshi Hori, a resident of the Koto neighbourhood, said he wondered whether his two young daughters would even remember the Games in coming years. “I live in Koto where a lot of the venues are, but I don’t feel any enthusiasm among my neighbours,” said the 39-year-old, who plans to watch judo and baseball on TV.

“I hope my daughters will still remember the Tokyo Olympics years from now and that the Games was actually held in our city. That’s about all I can expect.”

Public opinion polls show Japanese remain largely opposed to holding the Games this year, and most would prefer a further postponement or outright cancellation. Koto resident Noboru Kashiwagi said the Olympics was the last thing on the minds of most of his neighbours. “No one cares about the Olympics,” the 79-year-old said. “I feel sorry for the athletes. It’s not their fault.”

The Tokyo Games, the second in the capital following the 1964 edition, will feature a record 33 sports comprised of 339 events. Karate, a martial art that originated in Okinawa, will make its Olympic debut along with surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing.

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