So the torch relay is soon to start in Japan in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics. However, as everybody is keenly aware, the atmosphere surrounding this sports event is dire, to say the least.
There are several elements why the officials in the organizing committee of Tokyo Olympics (most of them senior men, although the Mayor of Tokyo is a woman) are reluctant to admit that a postponement is now necessary.
One, the Japanese love the Olympics, perhaps much more than the average citizens in other parts of the world. The last Tokyo Olympics in 1964 coincided with the happy memories of the rapidly growing Japan after the turmoils of the second world war. That established a favourable associative memory nationwide.
Second, for many people Tokyo Olympics 2020 was the symbol of hope for a way out of the stagnant economy in recent years, sometimes referred to as the "lost decade(s)" in Japanese history. It was hoped that the economic impact of the Olympics and the waves of tourists from all over the world would provide the much-needed stimulus package for the ailing economy.
Three, there is a tendency in the Japanese culture that once something is started, there is a great momentum to pursue it to the end. Although this mindset has its merits, it can also backfire. It is increasingly doubtful whether the obstinacy to carry on with the preparations for the Olympics would turn out to be sensible.
All these parameters provide a potentially toxic cocktail of denial, disbelief, and wishful thinking in those involved in the Tokyo Olympics, especially among the senior officials, who cling to the dwindling possibility of the games going ahead with the problems of COVID-19 somehow miraculously solved.
Feelings in Japan about the postponement of Tokyo Olympics