Monday’s Olympic optics weren’t great: A visit by IOC head Thomas Bach to Japan scheduled for May 17-18 was postponed due to the extension of the state of emergency. Three western prefectures announced they will cancel legs of the Olympic torch relay on public roads as coronavirus case surge locally. And embattled PM Suga insisted under opposition fire that he has never “put the Olympics first.”
Adding to the volatile mix, a government adviser riled up opponents of the games by likening Japan’s coronavirus caseload to “a ripple,” tweeting “So you’re telling me people want to cancel the Olympics for this? lol lol.”
On Sunday, athletes got a taste of what the Olympics may be like as they competed in a strangely empty National Stadium during a track test event, writes Jason Coskrey. “Weird” is how U.S. sprint star Justin Gatlin described it.
Meanwhile, right outside the stadium, about 100 people gathered to protest against holding the games, holding signs reading “Extinguish the Olympic torch” and “The Olympics kill the poor,” Kaz Nagatsuka reports.
If and when the games do kick off, even with the fate of domestic fans undecided, the absence of overseas spectators will make a huge difference to the atmos, writes Tokyoite William Lang in a think piece. But at least the “gaijinophobes” can breath easy.