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Tokyo Olympics Will Likely Be A Fan-Free Event 

The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee alluded to the strong possibility that the 2021 Summer Games will likely bar local fans from attending. Fans from abroad were barred from the event months ago due to Covid-19 risks, and the committee has less than two months to decide whether or not the locals of Japan will be able to attend. 

Regardless of what the committee decides, however, a majority of Japanese residents have been adamant about their disapproval of the Olympic Games from occurring this year. Multiple surveys have shown that more than half of the citizens of Japan want the Games to be cancelled or postponed another year due to safety concerns. 

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Beyond the obvious concerns over bringing in groups of people from every single country in the world to one small venue, the Japanese government recently extended a state of emergency until June 20th due to a rise in Covid-19 cases that’s straining the country’s medical system. 

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are insisting that they will be going ahead with the games this year, despite the multiple polls showing 60% – 80% of Japanese residents want them called off. 

“We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.

“There are many people who are saying that for the Olympic Games we have to run without spectators, although other sports are accepting spectators. So we need to keep that in mind. We need to avoid that the local medical services are affected. We need to take those things into consideration before agreeing on the spectator count.”

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Over 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to come into Japan for the 2021 Olympic Games. The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote an op-ed regarding the IOC and their adamant attitude in relation to making the Games happen this year. 

“We believe the IOC’s determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence. Organizers should reconsider holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.”

Japan experienced around 12,500 deaths due to Covid-19, and that number has not stopped growing. The vaccination rollouts in Japan began slowly, and currently only about 5% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

Japan has spent about $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and Richard Pound, senior IOC member, told a British newspaper that the games will take place unless “Armageddon” occurs. IOC president Thomas Bach claimed that “everyone in the Olympic community needs to make sacrifices if we want to hold the Games this year,” despite the fact that a majority of Japanese residents have made it clear that they want the opposite of that.

Sports Team

Olympic Athletes Promised Legal Support If They Protest After IOC Reinforces Ban 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently confirmed their long-standing ban on “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” on the field of play, medal podiums, or official ceremonies. A global union and activist group based in Germany responded by promising legal support to any athlete who makes a political or social justice statement at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. 

Simply raising a fist or taking a knee on the field could lead to immediate punishment from the IOC. The Olympic bodys legal team, however, still hasn’t clarified what kind of punishment an athlete would experience should they defy this rule.

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“The IOC also said that slogans such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ will not be allowed on athlete apparel at Olympic venues, though it approved using the words ‘peace,’ ‘respect,’ ‘solidarity,’ ‘inclusion’ and ‘equality’ on T-shirts. The IOC’s athletes’ commission cited support to uphold Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter from more than two-thirds of about 3,500 replies from consulting athlete groups,” according to reports from ESPN. 

“This is precisely the outcome we expected, the Olympic movement doesn’t understand its own history better than the athletes. Any athlete sanctioned at the Tokyo Olympics will have the full backing of World Players.”

“Should German athletes decide to peacefully stand up for fundamental values such as fighting racism during the Olympic Games, they can rely on the legal support of Athleten Deutschland,” Johannes Herber, the chief executive of the independent group representing German athletes, said in a statement.

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In a statement, another athlete group, Global Athlete, encouraged athletes to “not allow outdated ‘sports rules’ to supersede your basic human rights. These types of surveys only empower the majority when it is the minority that want and need to be heard.” 

The IOC claimed cases would each be judged based on merits, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, on Thursday, released a statement saying it “plans to update our recently released policy over protests in response to the IOC’s decision have not changed. We’re disappointed to see no meaningful or impactful change to Rule 50.Until the IOC changes its approach of feeding the myth of the neutrality of sport or protecting the status quo, the voices of marginalized athletes will continue to be silenced.”

Actors who break Rule 50 will be sanctioned by one to three bodies: the IOC, their sports governing body, and their national Olympic Committee. 

It’s still unclear what the punishment would look like for athletes who choose to protest. After Tommie Smith and John Carlos were recently inducted into the Olympic Hall Of Fame after being banned from the games for protesting on the podium during the 1968 Games, IOC officials claimed they would never ban an athlete to the same extent again.

Professional Swimmer

Singer Cody Simpson’s Unexpected Bid To Compete In The 2021 Tokyo Olympics 

Cody Simpson is gearing up to compete at next month’s national championships for swimming in his home country of Australia. The singer will be going up against the nation’s top swimmers before June’s Olympic trials. 

The international singer has always been a competitive swimmer, however, his career as a teen pop icon obviously distracted from that fact. Simpson claims that Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe are among his biggest mentors. His 6.9 million Twitter followers and 3.9 million Instagram followers only recently discovered that one of their favorite performers was also a junior Queensland state champion for swimming. 

According to sources close to Simpson, he began competitively swimming again around five months ago, and has been training non stop in the United States with former Australian Olympian Brett Hawke, who also posted daily updates of Simpson’s progress to his Instagram. 

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Simpson went public with his re-entry into the competitive swimming world back in December, when he revealed to fans his 100 meter butterfly time of 54.7 seconds. That time is below the 56.87 second qualifying mark for the Olympic trials and would have been the 11th fastest time if Simpson competed at the 2019 Australian championships. 

“I just qualified for my first Olympic trials. I’d love to share this personal milestone and let you in on my current journey as an athlete that I’ve kept relatively low key until now. Growing up competing, and then inevitably having to cut my career short as 13-year-old Australian champion when I received an opportunity in music that I couldn’t refuse,”  Simpson wrote on Instagram in December.

Simpson continued to discuss how after years of “touring around the world, releasing albums, performing as a leading man on Broadway, publishing a work of poetry, travelling with and speaking at the United Nations on environmental and oceanic matters, I was fuelled by the silent fire in my stomach to return to swimming.”

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Hawke also recently spoke with the media regarding Simpson’s return, claiming that they “kept it under wraps” for a while so he wouldn’t feel any additional pressure from his millions of fans to succeed. 

“We could’ve said something a little bit earlier but we just didn’t have any swim meets because of Covid … when a swim meet popped up on the radar we thought, ‘let’s go down and have a splash and get off the blocks for the first time … ’ and first swim he gets a qualification for the Olympic trials. It kind of took us all by surprise,” Hawke claimed. 

Hawke then went on to discuss how this is just the beginning for Simpson’s swimming career: “Our goal is to be as fast as we can possibly be this year and just keep building on that. He’s looking at this as a four-year plan, he’s committed to four years. He had a conversation with Michael Phelps, and Michael told him, ‘you can’t do anything in under four years, you’ve got to commit to that’ … so he’s looking at from the age of about 23-27 here, and that’s prime for anybody. I think that’s the best chance he’ll have, to try and make an Olympic team four years from now.”

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Confirms Tokyo Olympics Will Happen This Summer Without Foreign Fans

Japan has officially decided to move forward with the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games without foreign spectators, according to government officials who recently spoke with the Kyodo national news agency. The decision comes after weeks of pressure from Japanese citizens who are worried about the multitude of individuals coming into the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Although there are now multiple vaccines being distributed throughout the world, the new variants and lack of consistency regarding vaccine distribution throughout the world tells us that we’re not totally out of the woods yet with this pandemic, so we have to be precautious. Kyodo is the national news source that typically gets its information directly from the government, who reported this week that no spectators would be admitted from abroad to witness the Games this year. 

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Japan overall has handled the Covid-19 pandemic well. The nation in total has registered less than 450,000 cases and 8,000 deaths total; for reference they have a population of about 126 million. Tokyo, where the Olympics will be occurring, accounts for about 37 million people in that population. 

The Japanese public have been voicing their overwhelming opposition to hosting the Games this summer since the end of last year. Many citizens don’t even want them to be postponed again, and instead just want them to be cancelled altogether until the world has truly returned to a sense of normalcy and Covid-19 isn’t even a part of the conversation when it comes to the Olympics. 

About 80% of citizens who were polled stated that they think the Olympics should be rescheduled, moved, or cancelled altogether. The Games were already postponed after last year when the Covid-19 pandemic was first hitting the world. Ever since that initial postponement, Tokyo Olympic officials and the International Olympic Committee have been debating how to pull off the Games this summer, if at all. 

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Tokyo Olympic officials released a 33-page playbook last month that’s full of fuels for behavior for every party involved in the Olympics. This release was to show the public that they’ve prepared adequately to host the event safely. 

The document offered guidelines for behavior for certain groups of people who are going to attend the Olympics, including athletes and their entourages, but it made no mention of foreign fans, specifically.”

There have been no conversations so far regarding vaccine requirements for athletes, fans, and other parties who will be present at the Games. Japan itself has only just started rolling out vaccines to its citizens as well, with reports of the first doses being administered in mid-February. 

For now it’s still unclear what the 2021 Summer Games will look like, and with a few months and hundreds of millions of vaccines left to be distributed throughout the world, the guidelines are surely subject to change. 

Tokyo Olympics

Postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics Will Likely Not Allow Fans From Abroad To Attend 

Tokyo Olympic organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto recently hinted at the possibility that no foreign fans would be allowed at the Tokyo Games this year after talking with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and other Olympic executives. Hashimoto didn’t directly say that this rule would be enforced, however, it’s likely that in the coming months the announcement will be made official. 

Japanese newspaper Mainichi cited unnamed sources that were apparently “involved in the discussions” in which Olympic organizers claimed that foreign fans would be excluded from the Games this year due to safety concerns and the uncertainty surrounding where the world will be at with the Covid-19 pandemic by this summer. 

“If the situation is tough and it would make the (Japanese) consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said after discussing how the decision on foreign fans will be officially made by the end of the month. She specifically is wanting one by March 25th, when the torch relay is projected to begin. 

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The Olympic Games are currently expected to open on July 23rd, and according to the Mainichi newspaper, “unnamed government officials already know that in the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators.”

80% of residents in Japan have claimed that they want the Games to be postponed again, or fully cancelled this year due to the pandemic and health and safety concerns. Japan has overall controlled the pandemic much better than most countries, however, they still experienced 8,000 deaths. 

The subject of fans was a key part of the five-party talks with Bach, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa, according to Hashimoto. 

“We will focus on the essentials. That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority.”

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The exclusion of fans is nothing new to the conversation surrounding the Olympics this year. The Japanese public has adamantly opposed the Games overall, claiming that allowing outsiders from dozens of countries to come into a small arena sounds like the last thing anyone should participate in during a global pandemic. 

According to Bach, “the games will involve 11,000 Olympic athletes, and later 4,400 Paralympians, and tens of thousands of coaches, judges, sponsors, media and VIPs. I was encouraged at the number of national Olympic committees that were getting athletes vaccinated.”

It’s important to note that the IOC said it encourages vaccinations but will not require them. The general plan as of right now is to isolate athletes in an Olympic Village located along Tokyo Bay. Once they arrive they will be placed in a bubble until they leave the nation; kind of like the NBA bubble at Disney but at a much larger scale. 

“A decision on venue capacity will be made by the end of April. We need to look at the overall situation before we decide on any percentage rates. We believe we will not be accepted unless the citizens feel confident that sufficient countermeasures are taken. Having fewer fans will be costly. The organizing committee has budgeted income of $800 million from ticket sales. That shortfall will have to be made up by Japanese government entities,” Hashimoto explained. 

Only time will tell if and how the 2021 postponed Tokyo Summer Olympic Games will be possible. 

Legendary Olympic Athlete, Seiko Hashimoto, Named President Of Tokyo Games 

Seven-time Olympian Seiko Hashimoto made history as the “multi-season” athlete who appeared in four winter Games and three summer ones. Now, she’s breaking barriers and making headlines again after it was announced that the 56-year-old legend will be president of the Tokyo Olympic organization committee. 

In Japan it’s still rare to see women in executive positions of political power. In fact, the committee that Hashimoto is joining is 80% male. She’s replacing Yoshito Mori, the former Japanese prime minister who was forced into resignation last week after making sexist comments regarding women. Hashimoto spoke with the press recently about her excitement to take on this role. 

“Now I’m here to return what I owe as an athlete and return back what I received.” 

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Hashimoto has been serving as the Olympic minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and also has a ton of experience dealing with issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment. She claimed that Tamayo Marukawa will be filling her role as Olympic minister while she transitions into her new position. 

“Of course, it is very important what Tokyo 2020 as an organizing committee does about gender equality. I think it will be important for us to practice that equality,” Hashimoto said according to the translator present at the conference she spoke at this week. Hasimoto made these comments and discussed issues of gender inequality as she sat between two of the most powerful men on the committee. 

She discussed how organizing committees are always male-dominated, and of the ones she’s seen have never had any female vice presidents, citing that the executive board is currently 80% male; for reference there’re around 3,500 employees working for the board. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach recently spoke with the media about how Hashimoto was “the perfect choice” for taking on this role. 

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“With the appointment of a woman as president, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee is also sending a very important signal with regard to gender equality.” 

For some background, Hashimoto competed in cycling in the 1988, ‘92, and ‘96 Summer Olympics, and then transitioned to speedskating for the 1984, ‘88, ‘92, and ‘94 Winter Olympics. She only won one medal, a bronze at the 1992 Albertville Games in speedskating, however, her seven Olympic appearances are the most from any “multi-season” athlete in Olympic history, according to historian Dr. Bill Mallon. 

Polls are currently showing that about 80% of the Japanese public want the Olympics to be postponed or cancelled due to concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic. Obviously, the thought of bringing tens of thousands of athletes from all over the world to one contained city seems like the worst idea in the middle of a global pandemic, however, it’s unclear whether or not the Games will be moved again. 

Japan ranks 121 out of 153 on the World Economic Forum’s annual gender equality ranking when it comes to women in positions of power. Naming a woman as president will hopefully be the breakthrough Japan needs to rank higher on that list, and bring more women to the forefront of executive leadership.