And do Japanese people want the Olympics to come back again?

It’s hard to overstate how happy and excited the mood was in Japan when Tokyo was chosen as the host city for the 2020 Olympics. The 1964 Tokyo Games are still considered by many Japanese people to be a turning point in their history, proof that the country was pulling out of the after-effects of World War II and being reborn as a modern member of the global community. With the 2020 host city selection being made in the fall of 2013, roughly two and a half years after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the new Tokyo Olympics were poised to be a similar healing moment, and as the first Olympics to be held in the country since the worldwide Japanese pop culture boom, many were looking forward to welcoming athletes and visitors from around the globe, as well as television audiences who couldn’t make the trip in person.

Then the coronavirus pandemic started, prompting a one-year delay. With Japan having remarkably low infection numbers for a country with a large and urbanely centralized population, concerns arose that hosting an international gathering of athletes, press, and fans posed a risk to Japanese residents. This concern then flipped as vaccine administration in Japan proved to be far slower than in many other developed nations. The Tokyo Olympics also saw their potential for cultural exchange and economic benefit severely limited by the unprecedented cautionary policy of not allowing spectators at the competition venues and the country remained closed to international tourism throughout the entire Olympics.

▼ Tough there still were some unexpected teachable moments during the Games.

The Tokyo Olympics came to a close on August 8, but now that every medal has been awarded and the Olympic flame extinguished, do the people of Japan think it was all worth it? The results of a survey say that most do, although the sentiment is far from unanimous.

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun conducted the poll, collecting replies from respondents nationwide. When asked “Are you happy the Olympics were held?” 64 percent replied yes, 28 percent no, and the remaining 8 percent couldn’t say one way or the other.

When asked, as a follow-up, how they would have handled the Games, 61 percent expressed support for the decision to hold the events without fans in attendance, while 12 percent said they would have allowed “more spectators,” though not necessarily enough to fill stadiums to the ordinary maximum capacity. 25 percent still believe the Olympics should have been cancelled outright, which is actually 3 percent less than the group which said they were unhappy the Games had taken place, implying that at least some respondents took issue with the specific way the event was managed more so than just that it happened at all.

25 percent is also far less than the 41 percent of respondents to a separate Yomiuri Shimbun poll in early July who were in favor of cancelling the Olympics entirely less than a month before they opened. As to why those numbers shifted, the strong performance by Japan’s Olympic athletes was likely a factor, as they won 58 medals, including 27 golds, both historic highs for Japan. Also, while coronavirus infections have been rising since shortly before the start of the Games, no major outbreaks or clusters occurred due to direct contact with international athletes, journalists, or Olympics staff, likely contributing to a sense of “all’s well that end’s well” among the survey respondents.

That said, when asked if they want Japan to host the Olympics again, 57 percent of the respondents said yes, but that’s 7 percent less than those who’re happy the 2020/2021 Olympics took place, but with the long and bumpy road to the Tokyo Games it’s not so surprising that some people feel like once was enough.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun via Livedoor News via Jin
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