Tokyo: 17 days to go

5 July, 2021

Reena Parnat just snuck onto the Tokyo roster.

Going through the looking glass again. 500 personnel for the Olympics arrived in Tokyo on the first official day (July 1st), and luckily, not a COVID case has been detected among them.

ITG broke down the key numbers:

“A total of 78,000 people are expected to enter Japan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This would include 59,000 people for the Olympics, compared to the expected 180,000 from last year. The number will include 23,000 Games-related officials, including from the International Olympic Committee and International Federations. Olympic Broadcast Services representatives and rights-holders account for 17,000 people during the Olympics, with 6,000 members of the media expected. Around 19,000 people are expected for the Paralympic Games, including 9,000 officials, 4,000 for broadcast and 2,000 media.”

That’s a lot of people who you hope have all passed their tests, had their jabs, and not picked up any ‘rona on the plane. But as with the unfortunate guys from Uganda last time, it at least proves that so far the system is working, even if the goal is essentially to isolate the Games as far from the Japanese public as possible.

Where athletes and journos won’t be going. Photo: Unsplash

A senior journo from the Association of International Sports Journalists has pushed back against the particularly draconian measures for the press:

“The people of Japan must not see us as an enemy bringing coronavirus,” Merlo said today at an event marking World Sports Journalists Day.

“We are coming not to destroy, but to bring a message of hope.

“The big danger is that this kind of campaign is putting the foreigners going there as infectors so people will be afraid of us and this can sometimes cause us a problem.”

Merlo described some of the measures as “the most crazy instructions we have had in our lives”.

“It is important we begin to discuss with the organisers in a kind way, because we understand their mind, we understand how difficult it is for them but we have to find a solution together, if possible a human solution because I cannot believe that the hospitality of Japan is this way.

“It is a special occasion but we are not at war.”

Journalists travelling to the Olympics Games will be confined to hotels for the first three days and restricted to a carefully ordained itinerary for the first 14.

“In some ways we are exactly a kind of prisoner at home,” Claimed Merlo.

He also warned: “In some ways, they are asking the population of Japan to spy on everyone.

“This is not acceptable.”

The Tokyo 2020 organisers have also delayed making a decision on whether spectators will be allowed in venues, pending COVID data. (The decision was originally scheduled for today.) There was a plan for a lottery system todetermine which ticketholders can attend the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as sessions in eight sports (not including our thing). Some have suggested up to 40% of sessions would not have spectators. It is not clear which sports will get shafted.

The decision followed the easing of state of emergency measures, with the Japanese Government allowing sporting events to be held with capacities limited to either 50 per cent or a maximum of 10,000 people – but we’re not out of the woods yet. A Games without any spectators whatsoever will be a difficult sell both to the stakeholders and the rest of the world.

The Netherlands Sjef van den Berg has confirmed previous hints that he is set to retire after Tokyo 2020, citing ongoing medical issues and a general dissatisfaction with the life of a professional archer.

As he told World Archery:

Sjef is relatively young to knock the professional sport on the head, although there are quite a few older archers in the peloton who seem likely to be making this Games their last.

Four quota places in archery got reassigned after some archers failed to make the minimum qualifying score , and giving Malaysia a dangerous (maybe) mixed team. Reena Parnat of Estonia (pictured top) grabbed one of the places.

New Zealand also returned their single women’s place, a few weeks after returning their single men’s place. If they’re not going to send their athletes to the Games, why do they even send them to qualifying competitions that award places? Seems like a recipe for bad feeling all-round.

The wider world of Olympic sport was much more focused on the one-month ban handed out to US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson for testing positive for cannabis at the US Olympic trials and the banning by FINA of the Soul Cap for Olympic competition – currently under review, apparently. (The Soul Cap is legal for competition in England and elsewhere). Both of them touch on much wider, more complicated issues, and are exactly the sort of thing that needs to be faced directly if the Olympic movement is not to start losing goodwill all over the world.

Over in the tennis world, Australian Nick Kyrgios has signalled his intentions that if the Olympics isn’t what he thinks is should be, he’s not going to bother:

While the Aussie Olympic committee has backed him, for me, this smacks of an insult to other Australian Olympians (and indeed, all others) who might have worked their entire lives to make a Games and represent their country. With tennis, an Olympic gold is broadly considered the equivalent to winning a Grand Slam title – but no more than that. The Olympics is just a thing that happens and you don’t get paid for in the lucrative professional tennis world.

Photo: the Guardian

Whatever will transpire in Tokyo, the sporting competition will still be the Olympics, and will still – we all hope – be the best in the world versus the best in the world. The wider circus, much diminished, will be a lesser part of it this time around, and there will be less people to flatter the egos of people like Nick Kyrgios. (In Rio, several golfers pulled out citing the damp squib that was the Zika threat, pouring fuel on the fire of opinion that states that if the Olympic isn’t the pinnacle of your sport (like archery) then it probably shouldn’t be there.)

Krygios isn’t not the only tennis player to give Tokyo the swerve. Serena Williams has pulled out without giving reasons (although they are thought to be related to her being unable to bring her family), and Rafael Nadal has also pulled out, citing the need to extend his career. (The courts in Tokyo are hard and fast DecoTurf, and wouldn’t suit his game very well. If Rafa can keep going until Paris 2024, he might just be fit enough to play at the courts in Roland Garros, long the site of his greatest successes). So perhaps the secret is just… keeping your mouth shut?

Canadian archer and 2020 Olympian Stephanie Barrett is the subject of a lively piece on fantasy and archery in the local press.

Deepika Kumari was given some local government cash for her amazing performance at the World Cup in Paris, as was her coach and the rest of her team. 50 lakh works out to about £48,500 it seems. That’s a nice treat for the summer.

For Tokyo medals, they have promised her two crore for gold (about £200k), one crore for silver (£100k) and 75 lakh for bronze. (£72k). All about them Benjamins.

And Kang Chae Young (for it is she) put in an 698 in practice (six points above the world record, set by her in 2019). Although the web community was pretty critical of the way she filled out her scorecard. 🤣

More soon.

2 comments on “Tokyo: 17 days to go

  1. Antony Lawrence

    Thank you for your insights, would you mind if I put a link to your infinite curve on our archery club web site ?


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