Japan is known for its consensus-based approach. However, the decision to go ahead with the Olympics and this week to allow some fans has been a disaster.
"We are trapped in a situation that we can't even stop." In a recent editorial by Kyodo, Kaori Yamaguchi, a member the Japanese Olympic Committee and bronze medalist in Judo in 1988, stated that "We are damned to do it, and damned to do it not." "The IOC seems to believe that Japan's public opinion is irrelevant."
Although support seems to be growing, there is still opposition. There are small street protests scheduled for Wednesday, one month prior to the July 23rd opening. Concerns over the health risks are a major reason for this concern. Although the number of cases in Tokyo has decreased, about 7% are still fully vaccinated. Even though the government has increased its vaccination drive after a slow start , the vast majority of people won't have their vaccines before the games begin.
The IOC and Japanese government have had to make adjustments in order to pull this off. Dr. Shigeru Omi was the top COVID-19 advisor for the government and called it "abnormal" that the biggest sporting event in the world be held during a pandemic. He said with no fans , would be the most secure Olympics.
Both counts were ruled out by Prime Minister Yoshihide Sug and his organizers.
Officially, the cost of the Tokyo Olympics was $15.4 billion. However, government audits indicate that it is twice that. Only $6.7 billion of the total cost is public money. The IOC chip adds only $1.5 billion to overall cost.
For the Switzerland-based IOC (a non-profit, but highly commercial organization that earns 91% from sponsorship and broadcast rights), the pressure to keep the games going is primarily financial. It could lose as much as $3 billion to $4B in broadcast rights income if it cancels.
Apart from financial concerns, the success of an Olympics is a source of pride for host countries. It's like throwing a huge party. It's like throwing a big party, but you overspend and hope that your guests leave raving about the hospitality.
Koichi Nakano, an academic at Sophia University in Tokyo, said that it was akin to a gambler who has already lost too much. You can't pull it out now because it will confirm the losses, but you can keep going and hope to win big and take it all back.
Japan was well on track to host an expensive, but well-run Olympics before the delay 15 months ago. The new National Stadium was designed by Kengo Kuma and is a stunning venue. It also features meticulous organization and a grand stage that will be used to host a nation that hosted historic games in 1964, just 19 years after its defeat in World War II. Thomas Bach, the President of IOC, called Tokyo "the best prepared Olympics ever" and he repeats it often.
However, there are concerns that the games could become a breeding ground for the virus. The country has experienced more than 14,000 deaths, which is a good number by international standards, but it's still far worse than many of its Asian neighbours.
The games are still a great way to entertain television viewers around the globe, but the pandemic has robbed them of any joy. The athletes are expected to remain in their village or venue. The majority of those entering Japan for the Olympics cannot move between their venues and hotels for 14 days. They must also sign a promise to follow the rules and may have their movements tracked by GPS.
Hotels are struggling to find business with spectators from abroad, which was months ago. Some local sponsors have paid over $3 billion to participate, while others have complained about the loss of advertising opportunities. Some have expressed concern at being tied to an event that is not popular in their home country.
Organisers said Tuesday that they are looking at selling alcohol at the venues in an attempt to save some festive spirit.
Tamayo Marukawa, Olympic Minister, indicated that financial concerns were involved. Asahi, a Japanese brewery, is one of the sponsors. It has contributed millions to the local operating budget.
After immediate protest, Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee reversed his decision at a Wednesday press conference.
She stated that Tokyo 2020 had decided not to sell alcohol and banned the consumption of alcoholic beverages at venues.
Organisers have told athletes to drink alone if they want to celebrate.
The athletes' village bans alcohol.
The village will also include a fever clinic. This is the first stop for anyone who fails to pass a daily test, and the last place anyone would like to go.
"We hope that there won’t be so many people," said Dr. Tetsuya Mishmoto, director of medical services in Tokyo 2020. This is an infectious disease that we are referring to. It is susceptible to spreading. Once that happens, numbers could explode."
The details of the opening ceremony are kept secret. This time, the question isn't about who will light the cauldron. It's about whether athletes will socialize and wear masks while they march through the venue. How many people will actually march?
Condom distribution has been a symbol of the Olympic spirit. Officials distributed 450,000 condoms at Rio de Janeiro's games through vending machines that displayed signs reading, "Celebrate With a Condom."
The 150,000 will be given to the athletes when they return home.