Thursday, October 21

Tokyo, state of exception until the end

The Olympic Village in Tokyo.

The Olympic Village in Tokyo.

If forecasts and leaks are met, this Sunday the president of the International Olympic Committee will show off at the Olympic Such that the Games have passed with hardly any incidents of covid, far from the scientific and catastrophic warnings that a new variant of the virus could have come with it. “We did it for the athletes, we did it for them”, will surely be the message of Bach in the speech that will close these Games as different as they are anomalous.

These days I am struck by the almost exact coincidence in the response of the Spanish medalists in their press conferences, via Zoom, in which everyone yearns and sighs for the same thing. “A few beers and a seafood”, the Galician confessed to me -this yes, in person. Nico Rodriguez after winning bronze in sailing in Enoshima Bay.

“Something that is not sushi is what I want,” joked the hero Alberto GinĂ©s, whose golden success in the Games revealed to the world that he had a secret Twitter account. And in which he now asks: “Why did they make us come to the airport four hours earlier?”

Fear of exit operation

The reality is that the transports have been an absolute and complete nonsense that now they want to correct in the exit operation, which will be another mess. In the press center they offer PCR for 200 and 300 euros; and then others of saliva that nobody knows if they will be worth to reach the goal. In other words, to the arrivals terminal in Barajas or El Prat.

Be that as it may, journalists don’t miss us (not at all) the responses of athletes in the mixed zone. We would also kill for a beer. We have survived more than 21 days on sandwiches and rice from the Seven Eleven, the store closest to the hotel and the only one where – if the protocol is strictly followed – you could go in search of food and subsistence.

And not even once the quarantine of the first weeks they have not allowed to taste even a drink of alcohol. No beers, no white or red wine or anything. “Forbidden to foreigners”, they explain in all the restaurants to whom we intend to celebrate that the Games are ending without major setbacks. Because that’s the best news: having survived the infernal procedures, the stress of entering Japan, the non-stop news coverage, the ravings due to the time change and, above all, the obtuse and sometimes unintelligible rules of the Japanese.

These days I saw a Russian colleague cry who was prevented from accessing official transportation to return to his hotel, where he had left the accreditation that empowered him to get on the bus. I guess he wasn’t crying out of rage, but out of his mind. Nobody understood him because it is false that here they understand or know how to explain themselves in English. As it was also a lie that the rules were going to become lax.

“Give me a beer”

The Japanese have complied to the end with the ‘state of exception’ in which they have imbued us all throughout the Olympic time. If years ago the Games were worth declare a period of truce without war, here they have served to impose a regime of suppression of freedoms to which no one has just got used to.

So when the closing arrives we will celebrate the Spanish medals but from the feeling that it took us a long time for these to be normal Games. Not easy, not happy. The public was missing, of course; and that the celebration of sports in Tokyo pavilions and venues was a complete party.

It would have been almost an attack on the efforts of the athletes if they had to face another cancellation. It would almost have been a drama for them. But already on the last Sunday of the Games, possibly even this debate about the convenience of keeping Tokyo 2020 against all odds fades as LaLiga approaches. Everything revolves around the hurricane Messi and journalists take the same path as the athletes who leave. And we will order exactly the same as they do when we return to Spain. “Give me a beer.”

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