21 April, 2021

Tokyo: Through Five Rings of Fire

The costliest Olympics ever—over $15 billion. Some 10,000+ athletes. But no spectators! How an only-for-TV spectacle overcame a pandemic, a bribery scandal and sexism.

Tokyo: Through Five Rings of Fire

It’s March, the month when the Tokyo Olympics came apart just a year ago. Will it happen again? Frankly, it seems unlikely. The start of the torch relay on March 25 from northeastern Fukushima prefecture is just over three weeks away. It will involve 10,000 runners and end in Tokyo at the opening ceremony on July 23. These are certain to be a made-for-television Olympics, reports the Associated Press. There will be few tourists and no party atmosphere. The focus will be on getting 11,000 athletes into the venues to perform in front of cameras, and then getting them out of Japan as quickly as possible.

About 40 per cent of the qualification slots for the Olympics are still open, so there will be lots of last-minute entries, in-flux rules about who qualifies, and some unhappy athletes who are left out. And there will be lots of guidelines to follow, which are spelled out in so-called ‘Playbooks’ issued by the International Olympic Committee. They are vague for now, but will be updated in April and June. These Olympics have been through plenty: a global...

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