The Olympics has long been recognised as one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. But the same can’t be said for this year’s edition, which has been mired in much controversy.
With the opening ceremony set to begin today, we’ll be looking into the biggest question on everyone’s minds: Why wasn’t the Tokyo Olympics cancelled?
IOC: Hero or Villain?
Most would assume that the host country is the one calling the shots on how the Olympics is going to be run, but nope!
All authority is invested in the International Olympics Committee (IOC), where they are the ‘owners’ of the event, giving them immense power in the decision making process.
The IOC has long been criticised for binding host countries to lopsided contracts, where they would not be held responsible for any “indemnity, damages or other compensation” in the event of a cancellation.
This puts tremendous pressure on the host city, as they are the ones who have to fulfil all financial obligations to the IOC and broadcasters.
More Than A Sporting Event
Wanting to shed its violent past, Japan hosted the Tokyp Olympics in 1964 in an attempt to rebrand itself as a peaceful and prosperous nation after WWII.
In the years that followed, the Olympics slowly moulded into a symbol of hope for a nation that has long been battered by natural disasters, such as the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis.
This sentiment is particularly strong this year, as the world continues to struggle against Covid-19.
Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto summed it up best during the final leg of the torch relay:
“For the past year, as the entire world went through a difficult period, the Olympic flame was kept alive quietly but powerfully.”
Gambling With Lives
Despite the authorities’ best efforts to drum up enthusiasm for the Olympics, public sentiment largely remains hostile.
A poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre showed that most Japanese citizens were against the event and expressed their lack of confidence in the government’s ability to handle the pandemic.
A 53-year-old woman was recently arrested for using a water gun to extinguish the Olympic torch while the bearer ran past her.
While it was unorthodox, it reflected the brewing frustration that had finally spilled over.
The short clip shared by South China Morning Post:
Nevertheless, all eyes are on the Tokyo Olympics and whether you’re a fan or not, it will definitely go down as one the most anticipated sporting events in history.
Let us know what you think in the comment section!
Cover Image via FB / Tokyo2020
Editor: Grace Choong
Proofreader: Sarah Yeoh