TOKYO – The decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics by one year has been welcomed by the Japanese with mixed feelings of resignation, hope and doubts the games will take place in 2021.
“Given the situation, I hope the atmosphere will be lively. One can’t totally rule out some trouble again next year… but I hope people from other countries can come to Japan,” Rina Niina, a taxi driver in Tokyo, told EFE.
Walking with her daughter and pet by the Japan National Stadium, Niina said she did not understand why the decision had not been taken before the Olympic torch landed in the country on Friday.
“Although the situation in Japan is safe at the moment, if foreigners cannot come with a calm mind, the deferral decision I think is correct,” said Niina, who also spoke of her concern about the possibility of catching of the virus through a client and transmitting it to her family.
Besides the economic and logistical costs for the organizers arising from this delay, a major challenge for them will be to maintain the morale of the Japanese people which has been affected by the change in plans.
“Waiting for another year for an athlete would be very hard. Even if they are qualified, they will not be able to maintain their motivation,” said Tokyo’s Koichi Hashimoto, after taking a photograph next to the Olympic hoops installed in front of the stadium.
Hashimoto was hopeful that COVID-19 would be eradicated by the summer of next year so that it does not affect the new dates for the Olympics, and described the postponement as “a real shame.”
Yuriko Ikeda, another Tokyo resident, shared this sentiment, although she believed the delay was “inevitable,” and expressed much hope regarding the games next year.
“But I have doubts about whether all this will end in just one year because even if Japan’s athletes are okay, I’m concerned that foreign athletes might come to Japan,” Ikeda, her face protected with a mask, told EFE.
The organizers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC eventually decided on Tuesday to postpone the Olympics amid calls to do so from both outside and within the country.
According to a recent survey by local Kyodo agency, seven out of 10 Japanese people did not think it was possible for the competitions to be held on the scheduled date this summer.
“I think it’s right that they’ve made the decision now. While deferral could affect the Games, they can be well-prepared from now on. They can be re-adjusted and a good Olympic Games can be held,” said a young Tokyo resident, Narumi Kinoshita.
The Japanese people are known for their collective ability to overcome historical difficulties and they can serve as an inspiration for the rest of the world.
“Everyone will have to worry about prevention as much as possible so that the coronavirus can gradually disappear,” Kinoshita concluded.