Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games bid farewell amid health crisis, empty stadiums and unprecedented restrictions
JAPAN – The Japanese capital closed the Paralympic Games, an event that has gone ahead despite the enormous challenge posed by the pandemic and that will be remembered for the empty stadiums and the heavy restrictions for its participants.
With the closing ceremony that hosted the Olympic Stadium in the Japanese capital, Japan turns the last page of the chapter in its recent history dedicated to the Games, a sporting event that has been marked by the global health crisis.
The Olympic Games and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, which, as its name suggests, should have been held last year if it had not been for the pandemic, took place after months surrounded by citizen opposition, doubts about its celebration and logistical puzzles, and said goodbye, leaving a bittersweet taste in Japan.
During some Games that have been described as the strangest to date, the Japanese megalopolis has practically lived with its back to the event, held in a bubble format that has not allowed citizens to attend competitions, and while covid infections registered record figures.
Despite the fact that entry into the sports venues was not allowed and the authorities’ recommendation to stay at home due to the contagion situation, it has been frequent to see crowds of onlookers around the competitions and in the vicinity of the Olympic Stadium on the occasion of the opening and closing ceremonies.
The atmosphere has been colder if possible in the case of the Paralympics, who have received less media attention than the Olympics and that they were surrounded by greater concern due to the risk posed by possible contagions between parathletes with underlying pathologies.
CHALLENGES FOR JAPAN CONTINUE
Japan It managed to avoid an explosion of infections within the Olympic bubble that would endanger the Games, but it has not been able to stop the fourth and largest wave of infections that has spread throughout the country while the sports event was being held.
In the second half of August, more than 20,000 daily cases have been exceeded throughout the Japanese archipelago, figures that have pushed the health system to the limit in Tokyo and other of the most affected regions.
The anti-contagion measures of the Japanese Executive have consisted of declaring and extending successive states of sanitary emergency (which mainly entails restrictions for bars or restaurants but in no case the confinement of the population), and they have not seemed to be enough in the face of the latest wave caused by the delta variant.
After the Games, whoever takes the helm of the world’s third largest economy will inherit the even greater challenges of finally leaving the pandemic behind and steering the recovery.