Today is 22 July 2021. It is the eve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (although some events have already taken place). The games are being associated now with a range of problems – most notably the continuing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Japanese people are opposed to the games taking place – there had always been some opposition due to, amongst other reasons, the huge cost involved. That spectators will not be allowed to events and the concerns about athletes helping the spread of the virus have not helped. As a result many companies in Japan have distanced themselves from the games. These are all issues which I plan to address in the update to my book Japan: The Basics.
Personally, my main concern about the games doesn’t revolve around the virus. Even as I watched Prime Minister Abe fly off to Argentina in 2013 to try and get Tokyo awarded the games, my main fear was in relation to the timing of the games. Tokyo previously hosted the games in 1964 – and that time the ‘summer’ games were held in October (starting just a few days after the shinkansen (bullet train) was launched). They were also due to be held in Tokyo in October 1940, but those games never took place, of course. Holding the games in July/August in Tokyo is madness in my view and it was always putting the safety, and let’s be clear about this, the lives, of athletes, officials, volunteers, media, and spectators at an unnecessary risk so as to pander to the power of certain media giants who are more concerned with viewing figures (particularly for the NFL and MLB in the autumn). I hope I am wrong, but I have always been worried that some athletes would not return home alive – and it has nothing to do with COVID-19. (See also this Guardian article that discusses the concerns)
I also have another, much more personal reason, for being interested in the Tokyo 2020 games. Ever since I decided to follow up my first novel, Hijacking Japan, with another novel, I wanted to set it around the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. My second novel, Tokyo 20/20 Vision does this and it came out in January 2020. However, only a short time later it was announced that the Olympics were being postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than leave the book as it was, I made some quick alterations to the introductory text and some minor amendments elsewhere to take account of the change. Overall the delay hasn’t had a major impact on the book, particularly since the Olympics will still be called Tokyo 2020. The book is selling well and has had excellent reviews, which I am very excited about.
So, today, Thursday 22 July 2021, is the eve of the Tokyo 2020 games, but it is also the date that the Prologue of Tokyo 20/20 Vision is begins on. I just hope that COVID-19 doesn’t impact the games or Japan negatively, that the heat doesn’t cause as much impact as I fear, and that no athlete goes through what one of the main characters goes through in Tokyo 20/20 Vision.