‘Please clap but don’t cheer’: A struggle to enjoy the Japanese Olympics
At the forefront of the Olympic line relay came the protective truck convoys, shouting the J-Pop version of the movie “When the Saints Go Marching In” and asking people to help. Then came a police phalanx.
Then, if you were tempted to excite or amuse anyone, there was a loudspeaker truck to warn you. “The flashlight relay will arrive in three minutes. Please applaud but don’t cheer. Applaud but don’t cheer! ”He recommended.
When the torchbearer trotted out of the city of Fukushima Iwaki, a few of the modest crowds were also applauded. Security officials, wearing face masks and sandwiches to demand a two-meter social distance, agreed to follow up on the silence.
The start of the flashlight relay marked a major breakthrough for the Tokyo Games 119 days before the start of the Olympics, and sent a bold message that they would definitely move forward this summer after being forced to delay the Covid-19 pandemic by a year.
But it also exposed the uproar of the organizers: as people respond to public demands for Covid-19 security, there is less left for anyone to enjoy. Similar rules against merriment they will apply themselves in games.
In Fukushima prefecture, when the start of the relay was to serve as a global announcement to rebuild a decade after the Tohoku tsunami and nuclear disaster, a large part of the people see it as an unpleasant obligation to meet the Olympics.
“Honestly, I’m in favor of thinking that we shouldn’t move forward, but I understand the need for the Japanese economy,” said Yoshihito Shimojo, as he watched the relay pass out of his restaurant. Through the village of Hirono.
“They haven’t really responded to Covid-19,” he said. “It’s hard to see a good result.”
On the other side of the road, Mieko Owada said she would like the matches to move forward. “Excluding games would be like losing four years,” he said.
Polls have revealed that one-third of the Japanese public wants to cancel the Olympics, one-third wants to postpone it again, and one-third believe it should be held this summer.
There is widespread support for the government ban on foreign audiences, although the impetus for tourism – supposedly one of the main benefits of organizing games – will disappear.
The J-Village national football training complex was the “Great Start” for the torch relay to find out what Tokyo 2020 would look like. After years as a base camp for workers who went to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the site is once again being used for football.
To prevent Covid-19 infection, the market was closed, with local school children and the Sandwich Man comedy couple dressed as about 60 officials. Large production and security staff ensured that the event was well organized for television.
As the games approach, organizers hope the public will forget about a series of scandals, including allegations of bribery in the bidding process, rising costs and queer sexism which led to the resignation of Yoshiro Mori as head of Tokyo 2020.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the flashlight relay is an opportunity to show people that the Olympics are on the way. “I hope the momentum will grow across the country,” he said.
Seiko Hashimoto, The new president of Tokyo 2020, said the flames brought from the Greek Olympia continued to burn quietly but intensely a year ago. “That little sugar didn’t lose hope, and like the cherry blossoms that are about to bloom, it was waiting for this day,” he said.
However, the threat of Covid-19 is still above the Games, as Japan is struggling to move the vaccination campaign forward. Due to the supply of the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine from Europe, Japan has inoculated less than 1 percent of the population.
New cases of the virus have begun to re-emerge in Japan after the state of emergency in all countries was lifted.
In preparation for the torch relay to cross the nation, organizers said they would look into alternative celebrations as the area enters enclosure as it passes. The governor of Shiman said he did so not wanting a relay in his prefecture.
But even if it’s just a duty, Japan increasingly believes the games will move forward
“No one would play games in these situations,” said Shozo Kano, who runs a hotel in the town of Soma. “But it seems to me that Japan has no choice but to move forward.”