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Tokyo Olympics draws near, but enthusiasm lacking

Tokyo, June 23 (Jiji Press)–Although the Tokyo Olympics is just around the corner, areas around venues for the event is lacking momentum as concerns over the novel coronavirus crisis are dampening public excitement.

With one month to go until the opening ceremony on July 23, venues in Tokyo are getting ready to welcome athletes from around the world. Also, some people have visited Olympic Rings monuments in the Japanese capital to take pictures.

Some Tokyo residents, however, said that the Tokyo Olympics would be quiet because spectators are expected to be asked to go to venues directly and return straight home.

The National Stadium in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward will host the opening ceremony, which is seen accepting far more than 10,000 spectators. Preparations for the Olympics are underway at the stadium, with people involved, including construction workers, bustling in and outside the venue.

On one day, people were seen taking photos in front of the Olympic Rings monument set up near the stadium.

“I really wanted to take one look at” the monument, an 89-year-old woman from Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, who was accompanied by her daughter, said. “I think that athletes are working hard, so I hope that the Tokyo Games will be held without major issues,” she added.

Saying that he remembers watching the marathon from the roadside during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Norihiko Hanada, a 67-year-old corporate worker from the same ward, said. “The Olympics is a historic event, and I’m thankful that Japan will be able to host the Olympics again.”

By contrast, very few people were out and about at a shopping street in the Sendagaya area near the stadium, with the street decorated very modestly with Tokyo Games-related ornaments.

“As spectators are asked to go directly to venues and return straight home, there will be no excitement” surrounding the Tokyo Games, the 51-year-old manager of a Chinese restaurant said despondently.

While the shopping street initially planned to welcome tourists from overseas with a “Bon Odori” dance festival during the Tokyo Games, the organizers of the games have decided not to allow overseas spectators.

A 77-year-old member of the association of shops in the district voiced her disappointment, saying, “As we can expect little from inbound demand, we will probably end up seeing a lonely Olympics.”

Olympic venues in the Ariake area in Tokyo’s Koto Ward are quiet, with construction and other preparation work almost complete.

An area allowing people to enjoy barbecues and other activities, which was set up next to a venue that will host bicycle motocross events, has been largely empty. Most of the people visiting the site are nearby residents.

Shoppers at a large commercial complex at the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, which will host marathon swimming races, were snapping photos in front of a large Olympic Rings monument floating on the sea.

Very few people, however, were shopping at an official store selling Olympic goods at the commercial facility.

An Indonesian woman who bought a T-shirt and other items said that while she has tickets to the Tokyo Olympics, she does not know yet if she would be able to watch the events live at venues.

She added that she will cheer on athletes through the television screen while wearing the T-shirt if she cannot visit the venues.

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