Since the International Olympic Committee postponed the Tokyo Olympics in March 2020 due to the global pandemic of COVID-19, holding the Summer Games in 2021 has been one of the world’s hottest topics. Japanese Government has been continuously showing their strong will to hold the Tokyo Olympics, and now they are officially going ahead. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 measures and the extended state of emergency in large cities in Japan, only local spectators will have the chance to attend the competitions.
According to the Japanese media, the expected effect of hosting the Tokyo Olympics would be the promotion of economic growth and brightening the mood of the whole nation. However, it seems that many voices are anxious about the Tokyo Olympics. Therefore, the government decided that overseas ticket holders cannot enter Japan for the Olympics. They have been focused on achieving safe and secure Olympics for all participants and local spectators.
Despite the governmental decision, many Japanese people are divided about this topic. Some voices think that the Tokyo Olympics should be held for athletes who have worked hard for this special occasion. Oppositely, others think it is a risky event due to problems such as medical collapse and human damage caused by the spread of COVID-19. On the other hand, there are expectations that the economy could be recovered through this event.
Officially, 43 different venues around Japan will be used for the competitions during the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Most of the venues are in Tokyo, within two zones: Heritage Zone and Tokyo Bay Zone. Heritage Zone venues are situated within the JR Yamanote Loop Line, and most of Tokyo Bay Zone venues are located in Odaiba. Actually, many venues in the Heritage Zones are repurposed venues from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. There are 10 venues in total, including the Olympic Stadium, Nippon Budokan (which is the mecca of martial arts) and Kokugikan (an arena that is the holy place for the Japanese national sport sumo). The venues in Heritage Zone have attained cultural significance in Japan. Oppositely, Tokyo Bay Zone represents the innovative counterpart of Tokyo. Odaiba is built on top of artificial islands and has been undergoing modern urban development. Sixteen venues in Tokyo Bay Zone include the Ariake Gymnastics Center and the Tokyo Aquatic Center. One of the unique elements of the Tokyo Olympics is that they will use a combination of the existing locations, temporary buildings and newly constructed architecturally attractive permanent venues.
Tokyo Olympic Stadium is located at the place of the old national stadium, which was built as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics Stadium. The official name is the New National Stadium, and it is the main stadium for the Tokyo Olympics. The Olympic Stadium is adjacent to the famous Meiji Jingu Shrine, which is the symbol of Shibuya. At this Olympic Stadium, the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, and final soccer games will be held.
The purpose of the establishment of Nippon Budokan was to promote the spread of Japanese traditional martial arts among people. During the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, at Nippon Budokan, the judo competition became the official Olympic sport. For this Summer Olympics, there will be held judo and karate competitions. It is exciting that the Japanese martial arts competitions that originated as the Olympic discipline at this special venue will be viewed by people from everywhere.
Kokugikan is a facility built by the Japan Sumo Association and a sacred place for sumo wrestling, a historical national sport of Japan. The hall is shaped like a mortar, and so spectators can watch the competition held in the centre from all sides. It is located in Ryogoku, which is a popular destination for foreign visitors with its nostalgic atmosphere. During the Tokyo Olympics, Kokugikan will be used for boxing matches.
The organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics has released guidelines on the rules of conduct for spectators to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection. The spectator numbers are limited to 50 percent or less of the original ticket numbers. Actions inside the venue are restricted - loud cheering is prohibited, wearing the masks is obligatory, no high fives or crossing the shoulders are allowed. Additionally, the rules outside the venue include the “direct bounce” between home and the venue and no alcohol sales near the venue.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our life has changed so much. For us, travel lovers, travel restrictions have been impacting our life and soul big time. However, life must go on, so do sports competitions. Surely, it is challenging to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer with all the risks and limitations. Only local spectators will attend the competitions this time. But let’s not forget the power and joy of travelling and attending the Olympic Games, and let's hope that the next ones will bring us back to the normal, safe event that we all love to follow.
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