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Tokyo Olympics

Why Japan won’t cancel the Games

Loïc Venance/AFP/Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics is a ticking “global time bomb”, says Stephen Alomes in The Sydney Morning Herald. There are at least 60 infected athletes and staff in Tokyo, even before Friday’s opening ceremony. And the infection rate in Japan is 4,000 a day. Just as returning troops from the First World War spread Spanish flu in 1918-19, the Covid fallout from the Olympics will “spread across the world like a “global tsunami”.

The money-grabbing International Olympic Ceremony has the Japanese government in a bind. If Japan cancels at the 11th hour, the contractual cost will be enormous. It could pull the Games in the interest of public health and fight the matter in the courts, but it won’t. Japan has “always had an obsession with putting itself on the map” in a world once shaped by western empires. It has been battered by punitive trade treaties in the 1850s, its minor role at the Versailles peace conference and the “bombing destruction” of the Second World War. That’s not all. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, an independent Japanese investigation said “our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the programme’; our groupism; and our insularity” all played a part. The investigation concluded that Japan’s cultural traits can lead the country to sleepwalk towards disaster. The tragedy of this Olympics could be avoided by brave leaders. But it won’t be.

Read the full article here (paywall).