As Japan struggles with a third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, it seems hard to imagine that the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will finally be held in another seven months. Harder still to now imagine one of the biggest concerns about the games before the pandemic hit — the heat and humidity of Tokyo in summertime. But what if the pandemic had never happened? What would the games have been like if they had been held as originally scheduled?

Too hot to handle

There’s precedent for such hypothetical musing. There are a number of books and documentaries about the 1940 Summer and Winter Olympics, which were to be held in Japan until Tokyo pulled out in 1938 amid the war in China and boycott threats by other countries. The games probably would have seen Emperor Hirohito open the competition as part of a militarized Japan’s attempt to strut its stuff on the global stage. The maboroshi no orinpikku, or games that never were, left few tangible remnants apart from the Goshikihashi (Five-color Bridge), an unremarkable span in Minato Ward now overshadowed by an elevated expressway.