Tuesday, January 25

Tokyo dedicates bittersweet goodbye to pandemic Olympics

Tokyo dedicates a bittersweet goodbye to the Olympics.

Tokyo dedicates a bittersweet goodbye to the Olympics.

The Japanese capital closes this Sunday 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 hosts this Sunday the Olympic Stadium of the Japanese capital, Japan turns the last page of the chapter in its recent history devoted to the Games, a sporting event that has been marked by the global health crisis.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which as its name suggests should have been held last year had it not been for the pandemic, took place after months surrounded by citizen opposition, doubts about its celebration and logistical puzzles, and they say goodbye leaving a bittersweet taste in Japan.

Mixed feelings

During some Games that have been rated the strangest to date, the Japanese megalopolis has practically turned its back on the event, held in a bubble format that has not allowed citizens to attend competitions, and while covid infections registered record numbers.

Despite the fact that entry into the sports venues was not allowed and the authorities’ recommendation to stay at home due to the infection situation, It has been frequent to see crowds of curious around the competitions and in the surroundings 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, which have received less media attention than the Olympics and which were surrounded by greater concern due to the risk posed by possible contagion between para-athletes with underlying pathologies.

Finally, the Paralympics, like the Games held between July 23 and August 8, ended without major health problems, with some 300 cases of COVID-19 registered among parathletes and other personnel involved in the sporting event, none of them with a serious condition.

The president of the International Paralympic Committee (ICC), Andrew Parsons, described this Sunday as “incredible” that the Games have been able to go ahead despite the unprecedented obstacles that organizers and the 4,400 participating athletes have had to face, a record appointment.

There were many times when we thought that these Games could not be held even before they were delayed for a year., and also afterwards, but in all those situations we always had the support from the Japanese side, “said Parsons, who also recalled the” many sleepless nights “and” all the difficult decisions that have had to be made. ”

Challenges continue in Japan

Japan managed to avoid an explosion of infections within the Olympic bubble that endangered the Games, but has not been able to stop the fourth and largest wave of infections that has spread through the country while the sporting event was being held.

In the second half of August, 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 health 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 last wave caused by the delta variant.

This inefficiency and the unpopular decision to go ahead with the Games have been the main factors that have been undermining the popular support of the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, until forcing him to announce his resignation last Friday to continue leading the ruling party.

Suga affirmed that he has decided to “concentrate” on anticovid measures and therefore withdraw from the internal elections of his party., from which the candidate to form a new government will emerge in the elections to be held before the end of November.

Once the Games are over, whoever takes the helm of the world’s third largest economy will inherit the even greater challenges of finally leaving the pandemic behind and directing the recovery.


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