Organizing Committee Chief For Tokyo Olympics Claims Games Could Still Be Cancelled

The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, claimed that a last-minute cancellation was not off the table for the Olympic Games this year, despite the fact that the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place this Friday.

A combination of athletes testing positive for Covid-19 and major Olympic sponsors pulling out of the opening ceremony is what has so many experts worried.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto explained.

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“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Covid-19 cases are currently on the rise in Tokyo. The Games are set to happen with no spectators, and Japan decided this month that participants will be competing in empty venues to minimize health risks.

So far there have been 67 cases of Covid-19 in Japan among the individuals accredited for the Games since the beginning of July, when a majority of the athletes started arriving. Japan’s vaccination program overall has been delayed, and the city of Tokyo is currently experiencing a surge of new cases with 1,387 being reported on Tuesday.

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Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organizing committee President, said that “safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, I’m aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.”

“I really want to apologize from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics.”

Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said that the Olympics bubble system was “already kind of broken. My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” he added.

“Members of the public are concerned because they feel that the current situation appears to show that the playbooks that were meant to guarantee security are not providing a sense of safety.”

55% of the Japanese population claimed that they were opposed to the Games and wanted them to be cancelled, according to a poll performed by a local media outlet.

Ivy League Sports Canceled For Fall And Winter Amid Covid-19 Concerns 

Ivy League schools  announced this week that they will not be competing in intercollegiate sports this winter due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening exponentially in the US. The Ivy League Council of Presidents stated in a press release that all fall sport competitions will also not be rescheduled for the spring, however, they already alluded to that decision back in the summer. 

The Ivy League’s will also be postponing all intercollegiate athletic competitions for the spring sport season until at least February 2021, when more clarity on a vaccine will hopefully be made available. 

“Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to athletic competition in a safe manner.”

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The US has been posting new daily record highs for Covid-19 cases throughout the past week. In fact, over 100,000 new cases have appeared every single day in America for the past week; Friday marked the highest number of cases with over 132,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Other collegiate leagues are also struggling to continue playing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in America. For example, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee won’t be able to participate in the Southeastern Conference this weekend because four of the teams don’t have enough players due to positive tests appearing forcing most of the athletes to quarantine. 

The winter sports that are currently projected to cease any sort of practices or operations include basketball and hockey; football is in the weird middle ground of being indefinitely suspended in the meantime.

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The council made it clear that athletes will still be able to train and practice as long as they’re following their state’s/communities health and safety procedures at all times. However, the varying policies implemented throughout all 50 states is part of the reason this pandemic has been so hard to get under control in the US. 

Winter and fall athletes will not be losing a season of Ivy league or NCAA eligibility whether or not they enroll, according to the release, due to the severity of the pandemic. The Ivy league schools involved in these new policies include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University. 

“We look forward to the day when intercollegiate athletics — which are such an important part of the fabric of our campus communities — will safely return in a manner and format we all know and appreciate.”

The council went on to explain that they would be closely monitoring and evaluating the coronavirus pandemic as well as new policies and procedures that begin to be put into play as Joe Biden transitions into taking office this January. They’re hope is that as long as they continue to listen to health experts and scientists, they can return back to the field without any worry soon.

Netflix on Screen

‘Glow’ And ‘Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance’ Join Growing List Of Cancelled Netflix Originals

As Glow and Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance join the long and growing list of Netflix original series that receive praise from audiences everywhere only to be abruptly cancelled months later, viewers are beginning to ask the question, is Netflix killing off their series too soon?

Sense8, The OA, Santa Clarita Diet, and One Day At A Time are all examples of shows that have been cancelled after receiving critical acclaim everywhere, as well as massive social media followings. They’ve all released around two to three seasons before Netflix announced they’re getting the boot, and more times than not the series ends on a cliffhanger due to the abruptness of the cancellations. 

Now, Glow and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, have joined that list. The latter show is a prequel to the 1983 Jim Hensen movie which became famous for its intricate puppet design and animatronic use. Netflix premiered the prequel series in August of 2019, garnering near universal acclaim from critics and a slew of award nominations. It also received a 2020 Emmy for outstanding children’s program. Even with all of these positive accolades and reviews, Netflix still cancelled the series before it was able to develop further. 

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Glow on the other hand is a three-time Emmy winner, and is a show that follows the culture of female wrestling in the 1980’s. The show had three seasons and was about to start filming its fourth and final season when the pandemic hit. Now, thanks to the uncertainty regarding all things Covid-19, Netflix decided to just scrap the final season in its entirety, leaving many fans disappointed that their favorite show from the past three years won’t be receiving a proper ending. 

The way that Netflix decides what shows get renewed every year is still a mystery to the public. The streaming service has claimed that the cancellations have to do with social media presence as well as viewership, however, they never release their actual rating figures, leaving the public in the dark as to why these shows actually get cancelled. 

Netflix is notoriously known for watching the way their viewers interact with their programming. They look at analytics regarding what you watch, when you watch it, what time of year you’re watching it, what device you’re watching on, how many episodes you watch in a row, when you pause it, etc. The data gets so specific so the company has a better understanding of its customers. 

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Netflix apparently also looks at viewership mainly seven to 28 days after a series launches. They break their viewers into three categories: “starters, who watch the first episode; completers, who finish a show in its launch window; and watchers, a measure of all subscribers who watch a show. The more who finish a season within the first 28 days, the higher Netflix regards the show, it seems.”

This algorithm, however, is putting Netflix in the hot seat more and more, as fans are growing tired of paying more monthly for a service that keeps cancelling the shows audiences grow a deep connection too. Glow being one of the biggest and most recent examples of this, even the cast and crew working for the show went online to express their extreme disappointment in Netflix’s decision, showing that the individuals involved in the making of these shows are left in the dark just as much as the rest of the world when it comes to how/why certain shows don’t get renewed.

By exclusively looking at the viewership of a show within its first month of launching, Netflix is excluding an entire audience of individuals who have yet to discover the show, get Netflix, catch up with said show, etc. There’s a complete market of viewers that they’re choosing to ignore and while there’s been signs from management that this style of renewing would shift, the Covid-19 pandemic has flipped the entire entertainment industry on its head in general, so who’s to say. 

Marathon Runners

2020 Boston Marathon Officially Cancelled For The First Time In 124 Years

Organizers of the Boston Marathon announced this week that for the first time in the event’s history the marathon will be cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Originally, event planners were trying to work out a feasible way of implementing social distancing lanes of running so that everyone would be in their own space, however, as case numbers continued to increase and America became the most Covid-19 infected country in the world, they soon realized it just wouldn’t be possible. 

The Boston Marathon originally began 124 years ago, persisting through both world wars, a volcanic eruption, and a whole other pandemic. The race itself typically draws a crowd of 30,000 athletes from all over the world. Originally, when the coronavirus pandemic was just starting to impact citizens of the US, marathon organizers moved the event from April 20th to the beginning of September. However, now that we really know how unpredictable the coronavirus is, the event has been fully cancelled and will instead take on a more virtual format. 

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“It became clear as this crisis developed that Sept. 14 was less and less plausible. This is a challenge, but meeting tough challenges is what the Boston Marathon is all about,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference outside City Hall, going on to bring up the response to the finish line bombings seven years ago. “It’s a symbol of our city’s and our commonwealth’s resilience. So it’s incumbent upon all of us to dig deep, like a marathon runner, like we did in 2013, and keep that spirit alive.”

As previously mentioned the Boston Marathon typically has 30,000 recreational, charity, and professional runners participate in it, but the event itself draws in a crowd of up to 1 million. Fans line up every year from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay as they cheer on their friends and family while they race to the finish line. This route is also the reason that organizers knew creating a social distance means of running the marathon wouldn’t work. 

“There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity. While our goal and our hope was to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14 or any time this year,” Walsh said.

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The Boston Marathon is the longest-running annual marathon in America. It originally began in 1897 and the first race consisted of 15 men racing on a dirt path in Ashland and heading into the heart of the city. In 1918 the city modified the marathon format to be more like a relay race amid World War 1. 

Besides that, the only other times the Boston Marathon had to “adjust” the way it was organized was in 2012 when temperatures in the city hit 90 degrees and it was too dangerous for individuals to be running for that long, and in 2010 when a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded air travel and prevented thousands of runners from Europe from participating in the event. 

“The spirit of Boston and the spirit of the Boston Marathon is to be strong and to be smart. When necessity drives you in a direction you might not have liked, you need to have the strength, the wisdom and the guidance from public officials to do what’s right,” Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk said.

Mayor Walsh went on in his speech now to say that those who already paid their entry fee for this year’s race will receive a full refund and will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual marathon. Between September 7th-14th, the city of Boston will post a “virtual toolkit” that will include a printable finish line and winners tape for those who want to “run the marathon” at home. Those who provide evidence of finishing the marathon in less than 6 hours will receive a program, T-shirt, medal, and runners bib; per tradition.

Culture Words

Obama Criticizes Cancel Culture

In keeping with the tradition of American presidents who have left office, former President Barack Obama has chosen to almost entirely avoid commenting on American politics, instead choosing to focus his time and energy on the Obama Foundation, a charitable organization that recently held its third annual summit. At this event, Obama spoke about a number of issues, but his comment that generated the most attention concerned “cancel culture,” or the widespread attitude of criticizing a person online who was caught engaging in improper behavior in an attempt to end their public presence. 

Though it is arguably now widespread, cancel culture is a phenomenon that has emerged only recently, in the wake of the hyper-awareness of people’s lives and the unprecedented speed of the spread of information afforded by social media. It is a fiercely controversial phenomenon, as some claim that it is an unfair form of mob justice whereas others posit that it enables just retribution when other aspects of the culture fail to appropriately punish bad behavior.

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Obama came out in favor of the former argument, characterizing the attitudes of people who engage in cancel culture as self-indulgent and unhelpful. “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised, and you’re always politically “woke,” he said, “you should get over that quickly.“ While not referring to the phenomenon by name, Obama made his thoughts on the matter clear, asserting that “the world is messy, there are ambiguities,” and that “people who do really good stuff have flaws.” From Obama’s point of view, the form of mob justice aimed at ending the careers of public figures through social media attacks is injudicious, as it doesn’t allow for nuance or mutual understanding. 

Obama implicitly compared cancel culture to “slacktivism,” a derogatory term describing people who purport to be activists but constrain their political speech and behavior to often-anonymous comments on the Internet, accomplishing nothing except engendering in themselves a sense of self-righteousness. Obama specifically called out young people on college campuses, whom he feels in recent years have normalized and encouraged attitudes of judgmentalism over forgiveness when they should instead be focused on trying to bring about more meaningful change. Obama may have been thinking of Justin Trudeau, whom he endorsed for Canadian Prime Minister despite revelations of Trudeau’s past wearing of blackface and brownface costumes.

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Though Obama didn’t specifically mention any examples of the phenomenon, stories of people affected by cancel culture have been widespread in recent years. Most recently, Ellen DeGeneres had to defend her decision to sit next to former President George W. Bush at a baseball game, explaining that despite their political difference, she considered Bush a close friend, and adding that becoming friends with people you disagree with is essential, particularly in the current hyper-partisan political landscape. Non-celebrities are also prone to being punished by cancel culture; for instance, a school security guard was recently fired for telling a student not to call him the n-word, in a case that was widely considered to be the result of an excessively strict zero-tolerance policy that fails to take into account context, even when that context is exculpatory.

Other celebrities have also come out against cancel culture. Dave Chapelle, a comedian famous for his unapologetic takes on social commentary and political issues, took Obama’s side in the debate, asserting that “the First Amendment is first for a reason,” and stating that he doesn’t get mad at comedians whom he knows to be racist. Taylor Swift has also complained about cancel culture; during an interview with Vogue, the singer who herself has been a target of cancel culture described the experience as “isolating,” adding that she doesn’t “think there are that many people who can actually understand what it’s like to have millions of people hate you very loudly.”