Why is Japan putting on the Games when large swaths of Japanese society are against it?
It’s a complicated question, but simply put, there’s the feeling that this is too big a ship to turn around. The official budget figure for the Games is $15 billion, so a ton of money has already been poured into it. The official tally said that moving the Games last year cost $3 billion. The I.O.C., meanwhile, gets most of their income from broadcast rights, and they don’t get that money until the Games go on.
What’s the current virus situation in Japan?
Japan is currently in what they call the fourth wave of infections. Tokyo and a number of other major cities have been in a state of emergency since April, and that has been extended to June 20. It’s important to note that the percent of the population that is fully vaccinated there is still pretty minuscule, at around 3 percent. But the vaccination effort is picking up steam, and cases in the past few weeks have slowed down from their peak earlier this spring.
How are the organizers planning to keep people safe?
They barred international fans. It also looks as if there’s going to be daily testing. And everybody involved is going to be discouraged from going anywhere besides their lodgings
The biggest tension point has probably been that vaccinations are not mandatory for participation. But the I.O.C. has procured donations from the Chinese government and Pfizer for any athletes who are struggling to get vaccinated in their home countries.
What do the athletes say?
There are more than 10,000 athletes, so it’s hard to encompass all of their views into one position. But if I were to do that, I think they want to be there. For a lot of these people, this is kind of their one chance to be on the big stage, to get exposure, to pick up sponsorships and to raise their profile. And on a more symbolic level, they want to be able to compete at the highest level, which is what a lot of these athletes have arranged their entire lives toward doing.