Tag Archives: Olympics

Olympics 1, Japan 0

This result just in, the residents and citizens of Japan have been defeated by the national Olympic team.

The victory, not by athletes but by bureaucrats, politicians, monied interests and grifters, was probably never in doubt. But it pulled clearly into view Wednesday night with a report of the latest move by Japan’s government to put the Olympics ahead of the people.

Kyodo News (English) reported that Japan’s already delayed vaccination program could be put further behind schedule so that Olympic athletes can be vaccinated before the most vulnerable members of society, those aged 65 or older.

We knew this was coming. Thirteen months ago, Japan’s government made every effort to make it look like the nation would be a safe haven from the virus, denying testing to all those without the most severe cases of specific symptoms.

At first, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker numbers had to come from local websites because Japan didn’t publish nationwide figures. It didn’t want to know and didn’t want others to know. People who died without being tested were considered to be not infected.

Japan’s second state of emergency officially ended on Sunday, March 21, but we were told to be wary, and local governments, particularly in Osaka, which has become a hotspot, have begun begging for emergency status.

So why was the state of emergency lifted?

I’m sure there were a number of reasons, but Japan’s Olympic organizers have planned the longest re-enactment of Nazi Germany’s torch relay propaganda stunt in history, and there was no way in hell it was going to be canceled or run out of public view. The 121-day relay kicked off from Fukushima Prefecture on March 25, the fourth day after the state of emergency.

One hundred and twenty-one days. That’s 10 times longer than Hitler’s relay, likely a point of pride for Japan’s vice prime minister Taro Aso, an avowed admirer of der Fuhrer.

With roughly 80 percent of the public against holding the Olympics, the relay of the Olympic flame–known as “seika 聖火, the sacred flame”–it was felt, was a crucial tool in putting the Olympics in a positive light, and we all know the pandemic will be over by July, right?

Yet, even that has not gone without a hitch. On Wednesday, the torch relay was banished from the streets in Osaka Prefecture, with that leg still being held, but away from prying eyes at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in the Suita, the site of the 1970 Worlds Fair.

In January, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, in solidarity with the people of the world, said it encouraged nations not to put Olympians at the head of the line.

“We always made it clear we are not in favor of athletes jumping the queue. In the first lines must be the high-risk groups, the healthcare workers and the people who keep our society alive. That is the first priority and this is a principle we have established.”

–IOC President Thomas Bach, January 2021

But like tolerating openly sexist remarks from former Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, the IOC has shown world-class flexibility in its values regarding vaccines: “If Japan wants its athletes to be vaccinated ahead of its senior citizens for the sake of Olympic gold medals? Well, that’s none of our business, really.”

All this time, Japan and the organizers have stressed the need to get the public on board for holding the Olympics when it is not considered safe for non-residents to enter Japan and watch.

These Olympics have been a con from Day 1. To gain support for them, Japan’s real Olympic team, politicians, grifters and influence peddlars, renamed it the “reconstruction Olympics,” as if it would benefit the three prefectures decimated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster.

Yet the games are all about Tokyo, about spending lots and lots of money in and on Tokyo and to influential businesses, and to secure it after numerous past failures, millions of dollars flowed down suspicious avenues, with the head of the bid committee now being investigated in France for corruption.

But it now seems the idea of getting the taxpayers to understand this scam is no longer a necessary part of the con, and Japan is going to get its Olympics one way or another. So if people have to die before they get vaccinated so Japan can have an Olympics, well, so be it.

Sign up to receive news and alerts by mail

NPB 2020 Nov. 1

Sunday’s games

Other news

Lions stop streaking Hawks

Wataru Matsumoto (6-6) and four relievers held the SoftBank Hawks to a run on hour hits and no walks in the Seibu Lions’ 3-1 Pacific League win at MetLife Dome on Sunday to move to within 1-1/2 games of the second-place Lotte Marines, who came from behind to tie the Eagles 3-3.

Shunsuke Kasaya (4-4) walked four and hit one, and three of those five free passes scored as the Hawks saw their six-game win streak end. The Hawks jumped out to 1-0 lead after Taisei Makihara’s leadoff double.

Takumi Kurihara singled in the tying run in the first for the Lions and contributed to Seibu’s third-inning go-ahead run with his second single. Takeya Nakamura drove in Seibu’s final runs, with a hard-hit ball the Hawks did well to get an out on and a double.

Marines come back to tie Eagles

The Lotte Marines’ Ikuhiro Kiyota hit a two-run first-inning home run and singled in the seventh to set up the tying run and complete the scoring in a 3-3 10-inning tie against the fourth-place Rakuten Eagles at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Kazuhisa Makita took over for the Eagles in the seventh with one out and two on. He walked Seiya Inoue to load the bases and surrendered Hisanori Yasuda’s game-tying single before pitching out of trouble.

Yuki Matsui took the mound in the ninth for the Eagles and prevented a loss by throwing two scoreless innings.

Nomura, Arihihara beat Buffaloes

Kohei Arihara (8-9) allowed a run in five innings and Yuki James Nomura drove in four runs with a single and a triple to pace the Nippon Ham Fighters to a 7-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Sapporo Dome.

Twenty-one-year-old Orix starter Hitomi Honda (0-1) gave up seven runs, three earned, in four innings in his pro debut.

BayStars win 2nd virus test

For the second straight day, the DeNA BayStars threw open the doors to Yokohama Stadium as 24,537 on Friday and 27,850 on Saturday became the first normal-sized crowds to watch a sporting event in Japan since February. Although asked to refrain from cheering and chanting, the home fans got to witness their team come from behind in a 6-5 walk-off win over the Hanshin Tigers.

The stadium is scheduled to be the main venue for softball and baseball when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics start in July 2021.

Just think. The rest of the world can put 2020 behind them when January arrives, but Tokyo will still be advertising “Tokyo 2020” on banners all over the metropolis through much of 2021 to remind of this shit storm of a year—at least until the whole thing is canceled and those banners go the way of the money wasted to secure this fiasco in the first place.

In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, in which people were crammed together to test the effectiveness of removing social distance, the Tigers showed that they could load the bases and not pose a threat to the BayStars, juicing the bags in the fifth, eighth and ninth without a run to show for it.

Otherwise, Neftali Soto, who likely won’t win a third straight CL home run title, hit his 23rd and 24th, closer Kazuki Mishima (2-1) earned the win for the hosts and Takayuki Kajitani singled in the game-winner off Jon Edwards (0-1).

Jerry Sands doubled twice and drove in a run for the Tigers, and Jefry Marte singled in a run in the Tigers’ four-run seventh.

Giants scrape past Swallows

Seishu Hatake (4-4) threw a three-hitter for his first career shutout and Albert Suarez (4-4) allowed an unearned run in five innings to take the loss in the Yomiuri Giants’ 2-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Get the rookie trophy ready for Morishita

Rookie right-hander Masato Morishita (10-3) pitched out of a couple of tight spots to go eight innings in the Hiroshima Carp’s 3-0 win at Nagoya Dome over the Chunichi Dragons. Geronimo Franzua finished up for his 18th save.

Dragons starter Yuya Yanagi (5-7) allowed three runs, two earned, while striking out 11 over 6-2/3 innings to take the loss.

Active roster moves 11/1/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/11

Central League

Activated

GiantsP62Kai Yokogawa
GiantsIF93Dai Yuasa
GiantsOF2Yang Dai-kang
BayStarsP12Kousuke Sakaguchi
BayStarsP93Koh Nakagawa
BayStarsC50Yuudai Yamamoto
SwallowsP15Yuma Oshita
SwallowsC30Akihisa Nishida
SwallowsIF0Ryota Fujii
SwallowsOF50Tsuyoshi Ueda

Dectivated

GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
GiantsIF68Kazuya Katsuki
GiantsIF98Estamy Urena
BayStarsP58Yuta Muto
BayStarsP92Yuki Kuniyoshi
BayStarsC36Shuto Takajo
SwallowsC57Yudai Koga
SwallowsIF58Hideki Nagaoka
SwallowsIF60Ryusei Takeoka

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP50Shunta Nakatsuka
HawksP67Shunsuke Kasaya
BuffaloesP46Hitomi Honda

Dectivated

LionsP21Ken Togame
FightersP17Hiroshi Urano
BuffaloesP27Andrew Albers

Starting pitchers for Nov. 1, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daiki Enokida (0-1, 7.13) vs Tsubasa Nabatame (0-0, 27.00)

Pandemic causes WBC Déjà vu

The year 2020 has been so bad that NPB is ready to reset the clock to 2009, the last year its union threatened to boycott the WBC — partly over its March scheduling.

On Wednesday, Nippon Professional Baseball questioned whether it would be able to have the Olympic break in its schedule AND play in a March World Baseball Classic. So it may be no surprise that like it did in 2006, 2009 and 2012, NPB and its union are now preparing to hold their breaths until they either turn blue or get their way.

A March WBC in 2021 runs smack into two Japanese sporting obsessions: the volume of practice, and the primacy of the Olympics.

In 2017, when NPB announced Atsunori Inaba would be the national team manager on a four-year deal, everything, and I mean everything was about winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

When a reporter asked about the 2021 WBC and if that was not also an important goal, everyone on the dais treated his question as shot as if he had jumped on a table, broken wind and shouted hallelujah!

In Japan, the WBC is a poor substitute for the Olympics, and NPB and its players would probably rather spend their time in March building up for the season and preparing for the Olympics than playing in the WBC.

Of course, the coronavirus, which forced the postponements of the first round of qualifiers in March may have something to say about whether there is a 20-team WBC next March or no WBC at all.

But if there is a WBC it’s going to come as a tug of war between Japan’s priority on the Olympics — which is forcing two teams out of their ballparks and messing big time with the schedule — and MLB’s complete and total lack of interest in the summer games.

NPB aiming for April 24 openers

After meeting for the fourth time with the J-League pro soccer establishment, Nippon Professional Baseball on Monday announced the Central and Pacific Leagues will aim to start their 2020 seasons on April 24.

The J-League has suspended play since the middle of February, while NPB completed its preseason games behind closed doors. The baseball season was originally set to start on March 20 in a season that would include a three-week Olympic break and would run until the middle of November. But due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Japan’s government asked that large events be canceled to limit the spread of the virus.

When making the decision to delay Opening Day, NPB set April 10 as the earliest possible start time, and since March 20, teams have been playing practice games behind closed doors.

“It’s difficult to say that we will absolutely be staging games from April 24, but we will make a maximum effort to do so,” NPB commissioner Atsushi Saito said.

Opening season in April motivated by greed, not logic.

The PL will suspend its practice games from Tuesday and then resume baseball activities on April 10, while the CL will play its scheduled games on Tuesday and Wednesday and then take off until April 14.

The leagues are looking at playing six warm-up games before Opening Day, and expect to play a full 143-game regular season, although the Climax Series playoffs to determine each league’s Japan Series team may be abbreviated.

The teams are looking into measures that would reduce the health hazards by possibly restricting access to elderly fans and those with health conditions and perhaps keeping out fans who have just arrived from overseas.

When the April 10 date was set last month, late April was targeted as the last point at which NPB could still play a full 143-game full season.

April 24 Opening Day is madness

Tokyo Disneyland may be closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but Fantasyland is operating at full capacity in the halls of government and in the offices of Nippon Professional Baseball.

For three months, the Japanese government has been in full-fledged denial about how the spread of the new coronavirus might affect its staging of the Olympics. Schools were requested to close for all of March, and promoters of large events were asked to either cancel them, postpone or hold them behind closed doors, but the official insistence that everything would be alright and the Olympics would not need to be rescheduled has delivered a powerfully mixed message.

Through the weekend, the official message from the government and Olympic organizers has been that nothing would prevent the games from going forward as scheduled from July 24. This message was often delivered as: “We will take every measure to ensure the health and safety of the athletes and the fans, but the games will go on no matter what.”

On Monday, with the Olympics all but certain to be postponed until at least next year, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who a few weeks ago asserted that there was no chance the games would be canceled or postponed, spoke of a possible lockdown in Tokyo for the first time if things get worse.

Yet, while Tokyo began talking about emergency measures on Monday, NPB and Japan’s pro soccer establishment, the J-League, announced it was time to restart their seasons in April with NPB planning to pack fans into its parks from April 24.

Obviously, this is not because Japan has the coronavirus outbreak under control since that is very much in doubt. Rather the reason seems to be NPB’s desire to get fans into the parks for a full slate of 143 games. On March 23, NPB announced it had run various simulations and decided that April 24 was the last day that a full schedule could be played. So now, “voila” there’s our new Opening Day.

NPB’s announcement on Monday sounds more like the old Olympic mantra: “We’ll do everything to ensure the safety of the players and the fans, but it’s our business and we’re going to play our games.”

So even if cramming 30,000 fans and a few thousand stadium employees onto public transit and into close quarters during a pandemic is a really bad idea, well 143 games is kind of important to us and our fans want us to play so there.

Although the government has asked companies to have employees work from home and midday trains in Tokyo are less crowded than usual, morning rush hour still sees people crammed together in rolling virus incubators.

People were warned this past week not to assemble in parks across the country for spring tradition of having picnics and drinking sessions under the cherry blossoms, but parks filled up nonetheless.

On Sunday, the promoter of a mixed-martial-arts event outside Tokyo defied government requests to put the event on hold and opened it up to 6,500 fans.

Many are encouraged by the fact that Japan has not buckled under the weight of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t still happen.

Japan’s infection rate has been slower than that of western European nations or the United States. And relative to those nations, Japan has acted quickly, but there’s also been a sense that the government is not giving us the whole truth. One can apply for being tested in Tokyo if they meet the following conditions.

  • In the past two weeks they have come into contact with an infected person, or traveled in an area with infections.
  • Pregnant women, senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions who have experienced cold-like symptoms, a fever of 37.5 C or higher, extreme fatigue or difficulty breathing for around two days.
  • A member of the general population experiencing the above conditions for four days or more.

Those satisfying the pre-conditions can then call and ask about being tested. It’s almost as if the government didn’t want to know the truth, lest the image of control was revealed to be just a facade.

There is a concern that many infected people with mild symptoms or none at all are circulating freely, encouraged by Japan’s officially low infection rate, and that the country is a viral bomb awaiting a trigger to go off.

And now with schools set to reopen soon, and pro baseball and soccer aiming to pack people into stadiums again, it looks like that trigger is being prepared.

NPB planning on delayed openers: Report

Japan’s Nikkan Sports reported Sunday citing a source in reporting Nippon Professional Baseball is taking the logical precaution of making plans for a delayed start to the regular season.

Despite the yet uncontrolled spread of the new coronavirus in Japan and around the world, NPB’s regular season is still scheduled to go ahead as originally planned before full crowds on March 20 — a week earlier than normal to allow for a Tokyo Olympic break. NPB’s Plan B, according to the report, would see the season start at the end of April.

All of NPB’s preseason games since Feb. 29, however, have been played behind closed doors. On Monday, NPB is to meet with Japan’s pro soccer establishment, the J-League, for a second time, when they will hear expert opinions.

The J-League was the first major sports body in Japan to act, suspending all play between Feb. 25 and March 15, but is also planning an alternative restart to the season in April.

The prime minister last month asked for all elementary, junior high and high schools to close through the end of spring vacation in early April, the start of Japan’s new school year. A number of companies have introduced “telework” from home by employees. Advertising giant Dentsu ordered such a move when someone in its Tokyo main office was diagnosed as having the pneumonia-causing virus.

The Dentsu headquarters building in Tokyo’s Shiodome-Shimbashi business district has forced eateries that served Dentsu staff to shorten hours or temporarily shut their doors.

On Sunday, the Japan Sumo Association will hold a tournament behind closed doors for the first time in history, when the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka begins its 15-day run in Osaka.

The first of Japan’s two major high school baseball tournaments, the national invitational is scheduled to start on March 19 at historic Koshien Stadium outside Osaka, but the National High School Federation has put off a decision whether to cancel or hold the event behind closed doors.

Perhaps the biggest focus in Japan right now is the fate of the 2020 Olympics, slated to open on July 24 in Tokyo. Organizers have been scrambling to downsize pre-Olympic events, but the government and the organizing committee have rejected any talk that a change to the main event is being considered, which is probably the most transparent lie in the history of transparent lies.