Many in Japan are struggling to detect much Olympic spirit Photo: AFP
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Little cheer in Tokyo for Olympics

32 Comments
By Kyoko HASEGAWA and Shingo ITO

The athletes are in the Village and the world's media has arrived, but for many in Japan, there's little festive cheer just a day before the Olympics open in Tokyo.

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.

Local spectators are barred from almost all Games venues, with only around 900 people expected to attend the opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Friday -- just around 150 of them Japanese.

Little surprise then that many in Japan are struggling to detect much Olympic spirit in the final countdown to a Games that are finally taking place a year after becoming the first in modern history to be postponed.

"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, as she strolled around the upscale Ginza district on Thursday.

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 8:00 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.

"I won tickets for the finals of the athletics at the Olympic Stadium," the 29-year-old housewife told AFP.

"I was so disappointed by the no-fan decision and now I'm losing interest altogether," she said in Tokyo's Koto area, not far from the village where thousands of competitors and officials are staying. "I feel like I can't really whole-heartedly welcome the Olympics and I just don't really feel any joy in it."

Satoshi Hori, a resident of the Koto neighborhood, said he wondered whether his two young daughters would even remember the Games in coming years, given the low-key mood.

"I live in Koto where a lot of the venues are, but I don't feel any enthusiasm among my neighbors," 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."

But others are getting into the Olympic spirit, despite the restrictions, including Yumiko Nishimoto, who lives in Fukushima where Games competition began this week with softball.

"It does feel like it's happening," said Nishimoto, who leads a community project to plant 20,000 cherry trees in the region affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.

"You get the sense that it's finally starting."

Spectators in the region are also barred from Olympic events, but local students plan to run a mini torch relay on the day of the opening ceremony that Nishimoto hopes will "support the Olympics".

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 neighbors.

"No one cares about the Olympics," the 79-year-old said.

"Since even people living near the venues are uninterested, I'm wondering if people in other places have any interest," he added. "I feel sorry for the athletes. It's not their fault."

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


32 Comments
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"No one cares about the Olympics," the 79-year-old said.

No one could possibly put it any better.

Cancel it.

23 ( +32 / -9 )

One sorry aspect of this is that multiple trees, landscaping, and walkways lined with sakura trees were destroyed to put up big screens which nobody will see, and there are zero plans at replanting in this greenless city anyway. Just cement over the parks, put up plastic trees, and let those 2020 flags stay where they are until nature takes them away.

What a waste.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Since even people living near the venues are uninterested, I'm wondering if people in other places have any interest,"

Of course not...

15 ( +18 / -3 )

with only around 900 people expected to attend the opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Friday -- just around 150 of them Japanese.

Wasn't it only 500 a few days? And 150 Japanese? They should really list their names to shame them.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Many in Japan are struggling to detect much Olympic spirit 

Love the caption.

Nobody is "struggling to detect", as nobody is even looking to detect anything.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

-16 ( +3 / -19 )

"No one cares about the Olympics," the 79-year-old said.

"Since even people living near the venues are uninterested, I'm wondering if people in other places have any interest," he added.

So who are people who really interested in Olympic? Only very few people?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The only good news is that the next Olympics in China can't really be worse.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

It’s such a waste to organize Olympics with nobody to celebrate it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

athletes are ferried from Village to venue in a bubble meant to keep them and the Japanese public safe from coronavirus.

Nope, keep the japanese public safe from the being infected by the foreign contingent, that was and still the rational for the bubble and playbook, if they are serious about protecting both parties, they ought to put both parties under the same restriction and that is clearly not the case.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It is only TV event!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

15 Countries and 900 viewers. Luck every country in the world did not send anyone.

(15 is to 900 Dignitaries) as (195 is to ? Dignitaries) Wow. They would have had to build a second or third stadium,

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

athletes are ferried from Village to venue in a bubble meant to keep them and the Japanese public safe from coronavirus.

I was out for a walk this evening, in and around the Kabukicho / Shinjuku station area.

I saw, in various places, probably four or five (caucasian) guys whose physiques and overall demeanour suggested that they were not your average Joes. They had smartphones and were clearly consulting the map / navigation functions.

I couldn't of course prove that they were athletes, as I didn't talk to them. Two, however, had some kind of passes around their necks (they were on the other side of the road, so I couldn't see specifics).

The "bubble" seems pretty amorphous.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I sure don't care about the Olympics as I have other things to worry about like keeping my family safe and trying to keep my business going despite losing 40% of my customers because of the COVID restrictions.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@Michael O’ Dereiter

Could have been broadcast media/ technical staff, many of whom have been here in advance, and stay elsewhere.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My friend went home in Kyoto. Told me he saw many 'athletes' like tourists touring Kyoto. Who let them out the cage?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A valiant effort @MichaelO’Dereiter 8:14pm . . .

*- “…out for a walk this eve, in & around the Kabuki/Shinju station and saw, probably 4-5 (caucasian) guy’s physiques & overall demeanour suggested they were not your average Joes.…couldn't prove that they were athletes; 2, however, had passes around their necks (the other side of the road, so couldn't see specifics).” -*

. . . but have to also consider @wanderlust 8:37pm.

- “Could have been broadcast media/ technical staff, many of whom have been here in advance, and stay elsewhere.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It’s remote yet, highly unlikely those were athletes. It’s specified right here: -

https://gtimg.tokyo2020.org/image/upload/production/flg5huvr6y2xqmbbsyae.pdf -

- “The COVID-19 countermeasures described in the Playbook are designed to create a safe Games environment for all Games participants. Equally, they offer an additional layer of protection for our hosts, the residents of Japan. You must fully adhere to the Playbook throughout your time in Japan, keeping your interaction with non-Games participants to a minimum.” -

The IOCLDPJOC gave us all their assurances these would be ‘safe games’.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According to an ‘unverified source’, some first ‘drafts’ of a Player’s Guidebook:

While in country, foreigner athletes are required to wear the representative uniform of the country at all times, and not venture outside of the Olympic Village nor the assigned venue of their respective competition.” -

yet, that seemed rather draconian and not very “Omotenashi”.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If you take two of the rings off of the Olympic symbol and it looks like a upside down Mickey Mouse. That is a very good representation of the games today.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What is the over/under for the number of days it will be when the first game will be cancelled because the player/team got Covid?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A Terrible Legacy , why would any one want to remember this 5 ringed circus ?

In 1964 it was a whole different environment and something for the Japanese people to be proud of and celebrate this time its a complete toilet flush scenerio !!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@snowymountainhell

It’s remote yet, highly unlikely those were athletes. It’s specified right here:

Great upload man. Any chance of asking your source to supply the latest version? Version 2 is insane enough though.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most people just want it to be over so they can return to their daily grind.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We're kind of busy with Corona and lose of jobs, taxes are probably gonna go up next year and now they want us to stop drinking too (while the same politicians keep on partying). I really couldn't care any less about some corrupted games that are about money and politics. I'm sure many more feel the same.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Classic so-called media with a specific political bent doing their utmost to paint a dark and grim picture.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It is extremely difficult to get excited about the Games.....

Can't imagine the Anxiety and Stress everyone must be under.....

To be honest.....when Brisbane was named host in 2032 (not realising they'd even put in a bid for it).....I didn't feel much at all.

Everyone please Take Care and Stay Safe

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, nothing to do, COVID ruin everything..

The same thing would have happened in any country in this pandemic.

Maybe the good thing is that there aren't going to be so many visiting foreigners doing stupid things on the streets ..

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What kind of canned noise will they have? The NFL type or the ghost town type?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It'll be over soon and then we can Go-To-Travel!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"No one cares about the Olympics," the 79-year-old said.

And that is all there is to say about it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Oh well. Maybe in 100 years when we're all gone Japan will get another chance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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