Tokyo, Aug. 8 (Jiji Press)–With the Tokyo Olympics closing Sunday after drawing controversy over its staging amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, experts in Japan made mixed evaluations of the Games’ significance and questions posed by the major sporting event.
Shunya Yoshimi, professor at the University of Tokyo who specializes in urban sociology, said no Olympics in the past was as unpopular until just before the opening as the Tokyo Games, adding, “They will be remembered as one of the worst Olympics in history.”
“The athletes must have had mixed feelings,” Yoshimi said. “Even though each competition may have touched people’s hearts, evaluating the Olympics as a whole is a different story and I cannot say it was a success.”
The professor said the fundamental problem was that the meaning and necessity of holding the Olympics remained vague, criticizing the themes for the Games upheld by Japan–the Reconstruction Olympics and testament of people’s resolve to overcome COVID-19–as being “just like advertising copies.”
He said Japan was too obsessed with the successful experience of hosting the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and tried to do the same thing even though the social situation today is different from that during the period of Japan’s high economic growth, when the previous Tokyo Games were held.
“Japan should have examined what was lost after going through the high economic growth and present a new vision that is different from growth,” Yoshimi said.
Sports journalist Seijun Ninomiya said whether the Tokyo Games held amid the pandemic were a success or not needs to be examined over a long period, over five years or 10 years.
Noting that accounting records of the bidding committee for the 1998 Nagano Winter Games were burnt, Ninomiya said he wants the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to keep all negotiations and other records so that they can be examined later.
Ninomiya also said the Tokyo Olympics allowed people to reacknowledge the root of sports, which is “to enjoy.”
The fact that Japanese athletes clinched many medals in new Olympic sports debuting in Tokyo, such as skateboarding and surfing, “became a breath of fresh air for the Japanese sports community,” Ninomiya said, explaining that many of the medalists started such urban sports as part of playing, just to have fun, as opposed to conventional Japanese athletes initially being trained through club activities.