Tokyo Olympics: Games kick off Thursday after a year of waiting

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Tokyo (AFP)

In a moment awaited for about 2,872 days, the world’s attention turns to the Japanese capital on Thursday, where the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will officially start, after it was postponed for a whole year due to the Corona pandemic, which imposed strict measures that led to an exceptional event.

At 8:00 pm local time (11:00 GMT), the opening ceremony of the Games, which was originally scheduled for July 24, 2020. So the launch will mark the end of a long and hard marathon for the Japanese organizers, apart from two weeks of competition.

Hundreds of residents of the capital gathered at the Olympic stadium, which hosted the 1964 games, and will witness an exceptional party behind closed doors.

“We are here for the atmosphere, the lights and the fireworks,” one of them, Mako Fukuhara, told AFP, expressing the hope that “we will at least feel the atmosphere.”

The presence of the Japanese was not actually expected in the vicinity of the Olympic stadium, especially since opinion polls showed over a long period the opposition of the majority of the population to holding the Games due to the successive waves of Covid-19 with several parameters.

– Macron in the capital –

But the “epidemic Olympics”, as the Japanese call it, will start with an opening ceremony in a stadium that usually accommodates 68,000 spectators, but today it will receive only about a thousand of some personalities, led by Emperor Naruhito of Japan, President of the German International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, and the American First Lady. Jill Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron arrived in the Japanese capital on Friday to attend the opening ceremony, especially since Paris will host the next edition of the Summer Games in 2024, so Macron’s visit will include holding talks with Bach.

Strict health measures in Japan forced Macron to reduce his delegation to a minimum, so only one minister accompanied him.

The French president’s two-day trip will include talks with Naruhito on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the face of mounting naval and military pressures from China, as well as bilateral economic relations.

Macron also plans to raise the issue of joint custody of children in cases of divorce or separation that do not exist legally in Japan, where child abduction by parents is common and often condoned by local authorities.

The opening will also be an occasion to honor the victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, following a devastating 9-magnitude earthquake off the northeastern coast and a massive tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown and radioactively contaminated nearby areas.

After a year’s delay in March 2020, the games’ journey involved a long list of complications, at times threatening them to become the first modern post-war games to be canceled. At the time, Japanese officials hoped it would be “proof of mankind’s victory over the virus.”

But the escalation of the global severity of Corona and the emergence of more infectious mutants, reduced the victorious tone and provoked growing opposition within the country.

– Precious and precious –

While this Olympics is expected to be a lackluster version of the previous festivities, organizers are trying to compensate viewers by relying on advanced broadcast technologies and innovations to be able to live the event.

OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) has created audio recordings of crowd noise at previous games to adapt to each sport, and will be broadcast at competition venues.

Athletes will also be able to receive encouragement through screens of video (selfies) sent from all over the world, and communicate by video with their loved ones once their competitions are over.

Despite the harsh measures taken before the arrival of the participants in the Olympics, such as undergoing several PCR tests and downloading health tracking and monitoring applications, most notably “OCHA”, some injuries appeared among athletes and mission administrators in the days leading up to the opening ceremony.

To avoid a spike in infections, organizers have banned hugs or handshakes during victory celebrations.

The Olympics faced many setbacks: the high-cost reconstruction of the main stadium project, while the delay cost an additional $2.6 billion, the resignation of Organizing Committee Chairman Tsunekazu Takeda in 2019 over bribery allegations, and Organizing Committee Chairman Yoshiro Mori in February. The past came after insulting insinuations against women, up to the resignation of composer Keigo Aoyamada, who co-designed the opening ceremony, against the background of an old story of bullying against his schoolmates with special needs.

Not least, the creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki, has resigned after comparing an overweight comedian to a pig, and the director of the opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, a well-known stage personality in Japan, was fired Thursday over a comic scene more than a decade ago that dealt with the Jewish Holocaust.

With the dismantling of the “mine” after the other, it was time to celebrate, and if the games would be deficient among their most prominent components, that is, the masses absent from the stands, the Japanese spent the precious and precious to establish these games, which the emperor admitted that “they were never easy.”





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