Mendoza: Made-for-television Olympics

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

What’s the latest insofar as the staging of the Tokyo Olympics is concerned?

One year after its postponement, it appears likely that the July opening of the rescheduled Olympiad is going to push through.

Fukushima, hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which triggered a tsunami and a nuclear power meltdown that killed nearly 19,000 in 2011, is set to host the start of the torch relay barely three weeks away.

No less than 10,000 runners are involved in the dramatic race to Tokyo in time for the opening ceremony on July 23.

Japan’s organizers are bent on holding the Games before practically an empty stadium and other off-limits arenas in a bid to outflank the Covid-19 pandemic.

So vicious is the coronavirus that when the centuries-old sporting spectacle is staged infection-free 100 percent, it will be literally dubbed as a made-for-television Olympics.

Only a few tourists are allowed entry. No party atmosphere. No cheering of any kind whatsoever for the masked lucky handful.

The 11,000 or so athletes will perform not before a mass of spectators but in front of cameras. And officials will waste no time to get them out of Japan as quickly as possible.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) are both aware that about 40 percent of Olympic slots are still open. They’ve made contingencies to ramp up the screening and are prepared to see unlucky athletes getting left out.

Aside from the pandemic, Japan also took blows from a bidding bribery scandal that forced IOC member Tzunekazu Takeda to resign as JOC president, according to the Associated Press.

Just last month, Yoshiro Mori, the 83-year-old president of the organizing committee, resigned for his much-maligned sexist remarks and was replaced by a woman, 56-year-old Seiko Hashimoto, who was a former Olympic medalist.

“It feels mostly symbolic,” said Hashimoto, who promised to increase the executive board membership to 40 percent female from the present 20 percent.

Every race to the finish is always fraught with obstacles. And Japan is no exception. For it to pull the Tokyo Olympics out of the fire would be out of the ordinary.

And a woman at the helm at that. Top that.