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Life in Vichy Japan

The doublespeak coming out of the mouths of Japanese government officials, the International Olympic Committee and virtually everyone involved in pushing forward the Tokyo Olympics in the teeth of a coronavirus pandemic is surreal.

Based on the kind of daily messaging we get, it’s almost as if Japan’s government has thrown up its hands, surrendered, and is now collaborating as a puppet state of the IOC.

Bach: Japan embracing occupation

On Friday, when Tokyo reached a record high in coronavirus infections for the third straight day, IOC President Thomas Bach said Japan was “embracing” the Olympics, based on the fact that people are watching virtually the only thing on every terrestrial channel all day long.

Of course, most Japanese wish the Olympics would go away, but it is here, and there is a home team to root for, so it’s no surprise people are watching.

Despite polls showing 60-80 percent of the population didn’t want the Olympics, Bach did what Donald Trump did a year ago, ignore the polls and obsess on the people attending his rallies.

“Almost 90 percent of the Japanese population, in the meantime, has switched on the Olympic Games. These figures and these ratings, I think they speak for themselves on what the Japanese people are really feeling,” Bach said according to Kyodo News.

Muzzles better than masks for some

Proudly unvaccinated American swimmer Michael Andrew refused to wear a mask while speaking to reporters on Friday, according to NPR.

When asked why he didn’t wear a mask, Andrew said he felt secure since everyone else was taking precautions.

“For me it’s pretty hard to breathe in after kind of sacrificing my body in the water, so I feel like my health is a little more tied to being able to breathe than protecting what’s coming out of my mouth,.”

— U.S. swimmer Michael Andrews

In one sense he’s right since if that’s the stuff he’s spewing, no mask could prevent it.

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Olympic reality show

The Olympics got underway on Wednesday behind closed doors, but according to some reports, the strict rules meant to ensure that those entering Japan as officials, athletes, or journalists don’t spread the coronavirus are woefully inadequate.

We’ve been hearing from infectious disease experts that the countermeasures are woefully inadequate

An NPR report describes how the official process works, while another by Canada’s The Globe and Mail paints a darker picture, essentially where those who aren’t interested in following the rules cannot be held accountable.

In the buildup to the Olympics, organizers made it sound as if the movement of athletes, officials and journalists would be monitored as carefully as if they were inmates in the Prisoner, and that those who strayed from their approved courses would be hunted down with rover from the show’s “orange alert.”

Jailbreakers

So far we’ve had one Ugandan athlete “escape” from training camp and go missing in Japan, while the entire U.S. women’s gymnastics team opted out of the Olympic Village, opting instead to stay at a nearby hotel for safety’s sake.

It’s all about the rich and powerful

A few days before the Olympics opened, IOC president Thomas Bach thanked, not the people of Japan for holding the Olympics during a health crisis but the “Japanese authorities” for shoving it down residents’ throats and the IOC “for making the tough decisions.”

A few days later, Bach said, “You can’t expect 100 percent of the people to support anything,” when asked about the 80 percent of Japan’s residents who were against holding the Olympics.

In an interview with NBC, Japan prime minister Yoshihide Suga essentially made it sound as if Japan was sacrificing its population to hold the Olympics because of its duty to the world.

Damn those Japanese are heroic and altruistic.

It’s about looking good, not being good

The real key to holding a “safe and secure” Olympics is to care less about them actually being safe and secure, and more about convincing people that they will be.

Once April rolled around and the IOC was in the process of publishing its strict coronavirus playbooks, then it was all about solutions that would evolve and get better. They didn’t really get better, but that was good enough to keep U.S. sports federations from bailing the way they had in March 2020 when their non participation forced the postponement.

An example of this is the extreme focus on hand sanitation, writes Yahoo Sports, rather than worrying about the threat of congestion and airborne transmission.

And yet…

The Tokyo Olympics have so far been known for:

  • Logo plagiarism
  • Scrapping the original stadium design when the actual cost became known to the public
  • A corruption and bribery investigation that led to the Japanese Olympic Committee’s president stepping down
  • The reality that Tokyo’s summers are in no way imaginable suitable for holding an Olympics which forced the IOC to step in and move the marathons to Japan’s northernmost island.
  • A sexism scandal that forced the Tokyo organizing committee president to step down
  • A sexist, body-shaming remark causing the coordinator of the opening and closing ceremonies to step down
  • A composer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics who in the past bragged about torturing special needs students
  • The director of the opening ceremony getting fired for making jokes in the past about the Holocaust
  • Music used in the opening ceremony composed by a ultra nationalist opponent of LGBTQ rights and holocaust denier

And in order to get all these, Japan has put its coronavirus response on the backburner to make sure nothing got in the way of holding a successful Tokyo Olympics, which meant a lack of testing and a delayed and inadequate vaccine rollout.

Some bargain, huh?

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