When two of your global athletes are expressing serious concern, you had better listen.
That’s another dilemma facing Japan’s officials too beleaguered in their bid to stage the embattled Tokyo Olympics.
Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka are Japan’s world stars in tennis who have joined the call for Olympic officials to rethink their position.
Nishikori is a consistent men’s Grand Slam performer, and Osaka a multi-Slam champion.
Their concern came after more than 352,000 Japanese petitioned officials to postpone yet again the quadrennial event.
Led by lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya, a defeated candidate for Tokyo governor, the petitioners titled their online letter as “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives.”
Before this, the government ordered a new lockdown on major cities like Tokyo and Osaka in the wake of virus surges and slow rollout of vaccines.
Utsunomiya’s protest has centered on “Olympics or Life?” He urged officials to “prioritize life” more than anything.
Already, officials have banned foreign fans from venues when the Games are on from July 23 to Aug. 8 in a bid to eradicate crowd massing. In effect, the only spectators allowed to watch 11,000 or so athletes in action are TV crews and other media services strictly screened to cover the once-in-four-years sporting spectacle.
The Summer Games took a serious hit from Covid-19 last year when officials moved the 2020 event one full year to 2021.
And then Yoshiro Mori, the original Olympic organizing committee chair, was forced to resign over his sexist remark, “Women talk too much.”
Seiko Hashimoto, 56, a former female Olympic medalist, replaced Mori, 83.
Not long after, Hiroshi Sasaki, the Games’ creative director, was fired after calling Naomi Watanabe, a fat performer in the opening ceremony, an “OlymPIG.”
Before this, Tzunekazu Takeda, a ranking Olympic officer, resigned over alleged bribery scandal over bids for hosting rights.
And even before it could blast off, the Tokyo Olympics is being branded as the most expensive ever at $15.4 billion — alas, even twice that much according to England’s University of Oxford.
Impossible Olympics still possible?