It was the most bizarre Olympics, held during a pandemic and with no fans. What about the most agitated, with huge protests from large areas of the host country?

This is the most worrying, as there are fears of new coronavirus variations and surging cases plaguing Japan throughout the two-week-long sports. However, they mostly avoid those in the Olympic “bubble.” Perhaps the most kind were those who came together in times of extreme stress to support each other?

Japan will continue to ponder these questions as tens of thousands prepare to leave for Japan on Monday. It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on Japan’s view of the Olympics amid the glow from the televised pomp, the unquestionable athletic drama, and the lingering glow of the televised pomp.

They were used as a symbol for Japan’s recovery after the tsunami and nuclear meltdown of 2011. Their connection to the world’s victory over coronavirus is now the focus of the rhetoric.

Is that possible in a country with thousands of people still suffering from illness each day? Or in other countries that have sent athletes to Tokyo that are even more difficult to reach? While many here are proud of Japan’s ability to pull off something that was impossible, or in some corners highly unadvisable, they still believe that these Games were forced upon the country. This could be in the form of lives lost.

Others simply feel relieved that the end is near. Many people are relieved that the trip is over.

The Associated Press examines the meaning of some Japanese words using some of the dozens interviews that were conducted before and during these controversial Pandemic Games.

It is representative of a nation with 126 million inhabitants. It is not. The glimpses of the lives of people who experienced the Olympics give us a chance to see the truth behind the rhetoric of the IOC and government that stressed harmony and revitalization.


The ceremony began with a quiet opening ceremony. It was followed by silence in the stadium. Outside, protesters could hear the shouts from the streets. Many residents witnessed the Games with mixed emotions. Organisers tried to keep Olympic visitors away from socializing with the public. They also attempted to isolate them from the Games.

Many were against, but that feeling persisted. There was also nuance — the desire to present the best of the country, now that the inevitable was occurring, and the notion that this spectacle might act as a healing force.

Riza Nagumo (53), a housewife said that she was emotional and teary-eyed when watching the TV. “Even during the pandemic, there will still be the Olympics,” Riza Nagumo stated. “I was praying to see the Olympics succeed, to heal the whole world.

Large screens that normally blast ads and show TV were turned off at a busy intersection in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighbourhood. Due to rising infections, many bars and restaurants closed down and all public viewing areas in Japan were shut down.

“Everyone is just suffering this,” Harumi Wada, Tokyo resident, said. “But to hold Olympics, despite all, I feel there is a dissonance and I believe that distrust towards the government is growing stronger.”


Despite all the delays, disruptions, and disputes that these Games caused, some families found the ban on spectators, large gatherings, and other big events to be a surprise boon.

Although it was true that bars and restaurants were still seeing drinkers violating pandemic restrictions rules as late as Friday night (though this is not a surprise), many Japanese stayed home to be with their families and were thrilled with the opportunity to do so.

Ikuko Tozuka (53), said that she and her husband are too busy with their daily lives to enjoy this quality family time. She gathered with her two daughters, ages 53 and 54, in front of the Oiso TV screen west of Tokyo to watch the Games. “So, I am very glad that this Olympics has allowed us to be together.”

Hiroshi, a father of 58, bought a new TV set for his family to enjoy the Games.

Yu, Yu’s 26-year old daughter, said that it was good that the COVID-19 pandemic forced them as a family together to watch the Games this way.


Small groups of protestors gathered at the Games to voice concerns of a larger and more silent portion of Japan. They shouted, “Cancel Olympics!” and carried banners that read, “No Olympics 2020 — Use this money for COVID-19” as well as, “Is it more important then human life?”

These demonstrations were representative of the entire country. It’s complex. It’s complicated. Many people said they were against the Games in polls. However, an unknown number of people may have been waiting and hoping for the best.

Interviews with AP over the period between the Games’ postponement and their start were conducted by a variety of people. There was a sense of resentment among those interviewed that the government had pushed through partly due to the IOC’s pressure. Without the Games, the IOC would have lost billions of television rights revenue. Fears were also expressed about the possibility of new coronavirus strains being spread by the Olympics. According to the government’s chief medical advisor, it was not normal for the Olympics to be held during a pandemic.

Masa Yamagata, a Tokyo resident, stated that it was unethical to host such a large event with over 10,000 athletes all gathered in one place. We can’t have it. It’s not something we can celebrate.”


These Games were not only filled with fear and anger, but also had a nostalgic component for older Japanese who recalled the 1964 Summer Games, which celebrated Japan’s rebuilding after the war.

Because these Games were so more restricted than they were the last time they were held in Tokyo, some felt regret — a feeling of what could have been.

There was also gratitude. These Games helped Seiichi Kuroki (55 years old) to deepen his relationship with Masatoshi Kuroki (85-year-old), as they discussed Masatoshi’s role at the opening ceremony 1964 Olympics.

Kuroki stated, “I am very thankful for that.” Kuroki said that he looks happy whenever I ask him questions like, “What were you doing at the Games?” Because this is his legacy. 

Takemasa Taguchi felt a touch of sadness as he recalled Tokyo’s 1964 celebration mood.

Taguchi stated, “I’m so sorry about this situation.” “I hoped that we could have shared the joy and dance with people from all around the globe.”


Many hoped that the Games would bring about change in Japan’s society where minorities are still subject to discrimination and prejudice. Many people doubted that the Games would address all social problems in Japan. Despite the focus on Japan, some people saw progress on the issues that mattered to them.

Makoto Kikuchi (a professional boxer aged 34) decided to come out as lesbian ahead of the Games.

Kikuchi stated, “By speaking out and becoming an out athlete, I hoped that I could be as helpful for those who feel lonely as possible.” reports that the Tokyo Games featured 179 openly gay, lesbian and bisexual, queer, and transgender athletes. This is more than three times as many as the 2016 Rio Games.

Although same-sex marriages in Japan are not legal, Fumino Sugiyama (a transgender activist who was formerly a fencer on Japan’s women’s national team) said that support for sexual diversity has steadily grown.

“It’s truly amazing that athletes can compete while being authentic in sports,” stated the 39-year old, who was appointed to the Japanese Olympic Committee board of directors prior to the Games.