Is Tokyo the ideal Olympic venue?  Not all agree

Japan projects a solid impression of being one of the few places in the world that would have even dared to make the risky bet of organizing a fair of these dimensions, but the reality has been different

TOKYO – Organize some Olympic Games during worst pandemic in a century? The general perception is that there could be no better place than Japan.

A vibrant democracy with a thriving economy, the host nation is known for its meticulous attention to detail, large-scale projects, technological advancements, its ability to build consensus, and its world-class infrastructure. All of this, on paper, casts a strong impression that Japan It is one of the few places in the world that would have even dared to make the risky bet of organizing a fair of this size.

Some within Japan are not convinced.

“No country should organize Olympic Games during a pandemic to begin with. But if they must be carried out, then a more authoritarian and technology-focused nation, such as China or Singapore, maybe I could have a better control of the COVID“, He said Koichi nakano, professor of politics at the Sophia University of Tokyo.

The bureaucratic, technological, logistical and political efforts required to execute this unprecedented feat – an extremely complicated and criticized spectacle during a time of uncertainty and pain worldwide – has drawn unwanted attention to the country.

Above all, it has exposed some shameful aspects: that the majority of the country does not want Games, that the vaccination campaign in Japan It is slow to start and is just beginning to expand, and that many suggest that the country was forced to compete because the International Olympic Committee requires your international transmission income.

The concern is not that the organizers can make it to the last day without a tragedy. That looks doable, and it would allow them to score a victory.

The fear is that once athletes and managers return to their nations, the country that unwittingly sacrificed so much for the cause of world sporting unity will end up heavily punished as a result, and not just in terms of the billions of dollars it invested. in the competition.

The Japanese people could see how the situation of the coronavirus, which is already serious in the country, deteriorates even more; Olympic visitors have already spread more infectious variants of the virus in territory that barely hovers a 25 percent vaccination rate.

Nevertheless, Japan it has some obvious advantages over other democracies when it comes to hosting this fair, such as its economic power. As the third largest economy in the world, behind United States Y China, was able to invest the billions of dollars necessary to run the competition, with all that it entails such as accumulated expenses and changing demands.

Another plus could be the well-deserved reputation of Japan for their impeccable customer service. Few places in the world take so much pride in adapting to the needs of their visitors. However, it is valid to ask whether that true penchant for hospitality will be put to the test by extreme pressure.

The geopolitical aspect is another great motivator. The archrival of Japan, China, houses the Winter Olympics next year, and many nationalists argue that Olympic failure is not an option in the middle of a fight with China to maintain the influence of the region. The first Minister Yoshihide suga you might also hope that some Games successes help you maintain power in the end-of-year elections.

What about the possible arguments against Japan is the perfect host for some Olympic Games in a pandemic?

For starters, perhaps, his leadership. It has never been clear who is in charge. Is it the city of Tokyo? The national government? The COI? The Japan Olympic Committee?

“These Olympic Games they have been a Japanese project, but as is often pointed out, no one really knows who the main organizer is, “he said. Akio Yamaguchi, crisis communication consultant at AccessEast company, based in Tokyo. “Uncertainty is the biggest risk.”

Japan It has also faced a particular problem of democracies: a fierce and, at times, uncontrolled public debate about whether it was a good idea to host competition in the first place.

“After the postponement, we have never had a clear answer on how to house the Games. The focus was always on whether or not we could do them, rather than discussing why and how to do it, “he said. Yuji ishizaka, sports sociologist.

Japan it’s really bad to develop a ‘Plan B’. Japanese organizations are practically incapable of creating scenarios in which something unexpected happens, “he said. Ishizaka. “There were very few plans that simulated the circumstances of 2021.”

Japan he took a big risk, betting he could arrange these Games. Regardless of what politicians and nationalists say about the junta’s success in the next few days, the true response of whether Japan it was the right place for the competition will have to wait for the Olympic flame to go out and the visitors to return to their countries.

Only in this way, with some distance, will they be able to have clarity.