On Track & Likely (in) Time to approach the Finish Line

June 23, 2021, presumably one month To Go to the Opening Ceremony of the postponed Tōkyō 2020 Olympic Games. Put on hold, yet to hold on, thence, withal a long stagnation, there prevailed a bizarre acceleration.

Over half a year has passed since the publication of my last report, and as much there was to say, as difficult it felt to convey. I enjoyed this self-initiated activity, though it seems that by writing rather persistently, I at some point lost my words and avidity.  There was also an important change in my daily occupation, and despite my (continued) fascination, my estimation and sincere appreciation, taking up a position at the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government induced a new balance between time and energy; a challenge for a former work-maverick like me. Anyway, added to the Games-related uncertainty, it was easy to behave slothfully, and so, I ended up suspending my Towards Tōkyō 2020 activity. 

The journey to the XXXII Olympiad has been enduring, with people leaving and people joining. The Games itself handed on from one to the other, just as the flame at the torch relay.  

During the months that I remained in silence, the president of the Tōkyō Organising Committee resigned and got replaced; a self-caused scandal leading to a meaningful promotion of gender equality. The exclusion of overseas spectators was decided, then test events resumed. A petition against the event was initiated, and the cancellation repeatedly debated, however the holding was again and again reassured. The symbols in the Tōkyō Bay got illuminated to raise hope, then dimmed out to avoid mass visits, and whereas training camps have been widely cancelled, athletes gradually qualified for the Games. A constant back and forth, an up-and-down - Chutes and Ladders, with various players. Sufficiently documented in Japan and abroad, it didn’t seem pertinent to add my two cents.

Eagerly climbing up the ladders, Tōkyō 2020 though eventually approaches its own realisation.

On June 2, 2021, an overlay was pasted on the walls encircling the Japan National Stadium. Short while after, parts of roads around venues were closed off. The city dressing was expanded, including Tōkyō 2020 banners that now decorate various public escalators, stairs and elevators. Items such as the podium, theme music, costumes and medal trays for the victory ceremonies got revealed. The Japanese meal proposal for athletes was announced and on June 20, 2021, the equipped Olympic and Paralympic Village was opened to the media. On June 21, first day that the third state of emergency in Tōkyō was lifted, the decision about allowing, in principle, a maximum of 10,000 domestic spectators or 50% of the seating capacity (whichever is fewer), to the Olympics was officialised. However, it was said that in case of the declaration of a new state of emergency, the Games might be held without spectators. 

With ups and downs and many hurdles, the circuit to Tōkyō 2020 has been demanding, and although the postponed Games is certainly merely one of many reasons, Governor Koike’s hospitalisation on June 22 brings to mind that the (long way to the) Olympics may fatigue, not only athletes who are to physically compete. 

The postponement of the XXXII Olympiad came like the sudden elongation of a race, a detour amidst a thoroughly prepared marathon. Although 30 days ahead nothing is yet sure, Tōkyō coped with staying on track; withdrawing from the Games at this advanced time, would somehow occur as abandoning just before the finish line. 

Approaching the Finish Line, Miniature, Tōkyō 2021/06/23 © Louise Claire Wagner

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