What's with Japan and the "2020" Olympics?

What's with Japan and the "2020" Olympics?

In 2018, I was wearing the Japanese national soccer jersey to cheer for them in the 2018 FIFA World Cup (yes... I celebrated at my home state of Louisiana...). Even though Japan lost in a dramatic fashion against one of the best national teams in the world (Belgium), I was still in awe and happy at how much sport has evolved in Japan. With the 2020 Olympics coming at that time, I was merely hopeful I get the chance to see what it'll be like to walk the streets of Tokyo during an exciting sporting event that comes every two years. 

I had faith that the 2020 Olympics would be an extraordinary experience for a lot of people that would have the chance to see it from their very eyes.

Fast forward to Spring 2021, and my prediction did not age well at all...

The 2020 Olympics was postponed due to obviously the COVID-19 pandemic and the concern of the overall safety for everyone around the world. It was agreed to be rescheduled in July 2021 (which is now renamed to the 2021 Olympics). It was the first time in history that the Olympics was either postponed or rescheduled overall. The last time something remotely happened in the Olympic Games was in the 1940s during World War II where they just outright cancelled the entire event in 1940 and 1944.

Despite the improvements of COVID recovery cases, it still isn't enough for Tokyo to have the same excited feeling of hosting the Olympics where many health officials assumed that the majority of the worldwide cases would be over by 2022 (in the best case scenario). Even though even the Japanese citizens doesn't want the Olympics to continue during a pandemic, the IOC and the Japanese committee want the Games to keep going. Basically having their hands around their ears and not caring about anyone else around them.

You know the situation is extremely bad where the average Japanese citizen think their own Japanese committee can't read the room well... KY (kuuki wo yomenai).

But it got a lot of people thinking: Why? Why keep going with the Olympics despite what's going on right now? Why keep hosting the Olympics despite everyone saying it's not remotely possible to do?

 

Spending of the Event

The very first reason the Olympics had to keep going is the spending to hosting the entire event. Before COVID-19 ruined almost everyone's plans for international travel, the spending for the Olympics would be about $7.5 billion dollars, which then increased to $12.6 billion in September 2020, and in February 2021 is $26.1 billion dollars according to Business Insider. That's equivalent to 1/5 of Elon Musk's net worth as of this year!

That amount of money mainly deals with construction and renovating stadiums, infrastructure for the almost the entire Kanto region, marketing for the Games, etc. 

The Japanese committee mainly doesn't want the money to go into waste, so it's overall for the committee to non-verbally say to the Japanese citizens to "suck it up and deal with it." Considering that the average Japanese can't really suck it up because the Olympics is mostly a short-term gain for a lot of countries that have the opportunity to host them. 

There are videos where after the Olympics ended, the stadiums are almost abandoned, left to rot, and almost never been touched or even looked at again. It's equivalent to having your favorite toy and playing it everyday, then after a couple of weeks you place it in your closet and never been looked at again.

 

"Good for Economy"

The second reason is how the Japanese government is constantly telling the people that hosting the Olympics is considered "good for the economy". Note that in the start of the pandemic, it nearly shambled the United States' economy because of the national lockdowns in place. The 2020 stock market crash was considered one of the worst crashes, and it was at the level of when the Great Depression happened in 1929. Which means if the United States can't survive the crash, Japan's crashing down with them (and maybe even harder). 

So, the Japanese government constantly wants to market and persuade the people that Japan would rise to greatness if we keep the event as planned. 

I am definitely not an economist, but it doesn't really make sense to keep hosting the Olympics during a worldwide pandemic. While yeah it can help the economy for the short 2-3 weeks, but the long term would still be bad, if not worse. It should be a proven cause that pandemics don't care about scheduled events (big or small). 

Also, there has been speculation where there might even be a 2021 stock crash sometime soon. Therefore, hosting the Olympics would be considered tricky since not everyone would know when the stock market would crash again this year.

 

"Being One-Up"

What I mean by being one-up, it means after the 2021 Olympics would finish in Tokyo, the 2022 Winter Olympics would be held in Beijing, China. Since the 2022 Olympics might still be held despite the constant boycotts of basic human rights (and other reasons), Japan would have the mindset of "if they can keep going despite what's going on, then we should too".

A lot of people inside and outside of Japan were assuming that their ego and pride could be an underrated factor of why the 2021 Olympics should continue. 

The Japanese athletes can't even take COVID vaccines that are offered from the Chinese because they're not officially approved that it's safe to inject

Overall, China is basically the big brother that Japan trying to prove that it can handle the pain despite the pain might be catastrophic in the long-term.

 

Extreme Measures of Safety

While Japan does react to the pandemic a lot better than most countries, Japan does have rules and regulations that are considered to make people somewhat confused. 

The most obvious example of it is Japan would allow people to come to the stadiums but they're urged to not shout and cheer because they're concerned about the spread of COVID. So, they would have to only clap to show support. It was deemed weird in my American way because cheering and shouting are considered completely normal in sporting events, so not cheering for your home team was almost a "take the experience" out to some fans.

Another example would be the recent event of banning overseas fans into coming to the Olympics. While it may be considered a safe thing to do (depending on who you're asking), it was almost a no brainer since the majority of the world can't even come to Japan unless you're one of the handful countries that are allowed back that have really low COVID cases.

The reason I somewhat thought of it as a no-brainer is because since there are variants spreading around the world, it's really not that surprising that Japan have to monitor and limit the amount of people to come into the stadium.

The question begs is what's the point of limiting overseas fans despite the fact that even a small spike of COVID cases would create another state of emergency for the Kanto region and everyone would have to go back to lockdown?

 

Conclusion

There might have been other factors as to why the Japanese committee wanted the Olympics to continue, but almost everyone agree where I should say: hosting the 2021 Olympics right now has almost no benefits in the short-term and in the long-term. 

Should they cancelled it overall? Probably not. Should they reconsider trying to reschedule it and push everyone else back to two years? Somewhat reasonable, but keeping the 2021 Olympics as it is right now would now be a meaningless risk to take. 

The Olympics already had a bad reputation and the audience had slightly decreased in the past five Games, so hosting it now would not just put a damper to the Japanese government but to the sporting event itself. 


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