In the minds of athletes who cannot leave the villa, judges who cannot leave the pavilion or journalists who cannot leave the hotel, there is a danger that the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee launched in an email a few days ago, asking if anyone Goes to break the bubble.
“The Japanese will be very attentive to your every move and, if you break the rules, you can get photographed and reported on social media.”
Victory Games, which must serve to celebrate that humanity has overcome the coronavirus, are officially the sport feared and banned by the pandemic. The economic ruin no longer matters to Japan due to the absence of visitors and even the local public; The only thing that matters is to avoid another contagion, another one, whatever the cost.
But is the situation there so bad? Any European who has seen, for example, a Wembley stadium almost full in the final of the last European Championship. And the answer is no, not at all, not at all, but…
very few incidents
“I would like the incidence in Japan for Spain. Its rate is about 25 cases per 100,000 residents and in Spain we have over 600 cases. The difference is huge, but its approach to the virus is very different. The beginning of the pandemic, Japan , as well as the rest of the Asian countries, maintain a zero covid policy. They don’t find a way to live with the pandemic, they try to eradicate it. And the organization of the Games struggles against that idea”, he analysed. is Joan Keel, a member of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology, which assesses measures such as the closure of stands or the rigor of protocol in Tokyo.
Despite several efforts in recent weeks, the very slow vaccination rate that Japan maintains has also responded to this way of fighting the coronavirus. Only 22% of the population has received the complete guideline, there is a reason for this. “For them, vaccination was not a priority task, especially after preventing covid during 2020. We must not forget that at the beginning of the century they had already confined a coronavirus and since then they have had protocols and practices. There were customs. Now they have seen that complete control is impossible in this globalized world and they are moving fast, but it is still early days,” says Keel.
never with empty levels
The local population’s disapproval for the games stems from those habits, from that culture of the facade, the absence of contact, and that also defines the event. Everything has happened in Olympic history: boycotts, bankruptcies, accidents… At the 1972 Munich Games, terrorists entered the village, kidnapping and killing eleven members of the Israeli team, and yet the excitement around the competition continued. .
“There were never any closed-door games or games with open hostility to the region with the majority of the local population. Political groups and environmental organizations in recent years were against, but were always in the minority. Curiously, the Antwerp Games in 1920, celebrated when the so-called Spanish flu dealt its last blow, the stadium was always half empty and was criticized by the press of the time”, exposes Olympic historian Fernando Arrechia Which gives a key to these games: If it had been for the Japanese government, they would not have been held.
Areas of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) expressed this publicly and even the monarch’s atmosphere was important, but the cancellation would have returned the broadcasting rights to television and the higher bill had already taken over. That would have fueled huge growth. Japanese debt. “Moreover, it would be painful for them if the first post-pandemic games were held in China, their great historical rival, in the winter of 2022”, considers Arrechia in a geopolitical vision that reaches practical.
Because the fear, tension and discouragement that sports in Japan creates can be felt every step of the way and certainly affects the competition. There are myriad examples of steps that any of the 11,000 people displaced in Japan should make – among athletes, officials, the press… but there are gaps that show the extent to which the Olympian has been affected. The last-minute loss of one of the world’s best basketball players to the tension of the bubble, Liz Cambage, is the best example of this, but you’d only have to look at faded lists of registered tennis players or golfers to guess. The context would hurt the show as well.
“a lot of mental work”
Not to mention the psychological burden, for example, of taking a PCR test six hours before a game, the fight or race of your life and not knowing whether you are going to test positive or negative. “There is concern about the development of the Games, the conditions in which they are held. Not to mention that competition without spectators, and which is already common, impacts some athletes within that year”, reflects the psychological Eva Gizzard, which works with swimmers, golfers or triathletes in Tokyo in a conversation organized by Eurosport, which will broadcast all competitions.
In this sense, Gizzard doesn’t forget that the postponement, an unusual fact for many people a year ago, and the effects it had on performance. “It’s taken a lot of mental work,” he admits to the abyss about what’s to come.
Maybe, in spite of everything, a prank Simone Biles Light up the world and there will be new world records in pool and platen. Maybe what happened after Spain left behind 17 medals from the Rio Games and found new context in its sport. But if anything, neither the prettiest exercise nor the happiest result of the selection will erase the gloom and certainty of defeat, combining empty stands from books. The Tokyo Games were to be the Liberation Games, the beginning of a virus-free life. And indeed, it will be a game of fear of a city covered by the pandemic.