Tokyo Olympics: Japan athletes on edge, Nishikori says, ‘I am not 100% optimistic’, World medallist wrestler Minagawa says ‘I am torn over the issue’: Tokyo Olympics – Japan Athletes Tokyo Olympics: Japan relaxed emergency coronavirus restrictions in Tokyo and eight prefectures on Monday and members of its delegation started vaccinations from June 1, but athletes still have serious concerns over whether the games can be staged safely or not. Various athletes including Japan’s top tennis player Kei Nishikori, champion wrestler Hiroe Minagawa and various others have raised doubts over safe conduct of Olympics in less than 1 month time according to Kyodo News.
Tokyo Olympics: Japan athletes on edge, Nishikori says, ‘I am not 100% optimistic’, World medallist wrestler Minagawa says ‘I am torn over the issue’
Tokyo Olympics – Japan Athletes Tokyo Olympics: ‘I’m not 100 percent optimistic yet,” Japanese men’s tennis star Kei Nishikori said, voicing a thought likely shared by many other Olympic athletes.
“I need to get closer to the competition date and have a better understanding (of the coronavirus situation in Tokyo) to get pumped.”
The Tokyo Olympics, postponed for a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, will open on July 23 and close on Aug. 8.
In the wake of multiple surveys showing a majority of Japanese people favoring cancellation or further postponement, athletes feel conflicted between recognizing the intangible value of the games at a time of global disconnect and also wanting to put safety first.
“I know the value of the Olympics has dropped to a point where people are saying the event doesn’t even have to happen,” said Tatsuki Yoshino, a core member of the men’s national handball team.
Olympians are hesitant to speak out on the hot-button issue of holding the games amid the pandemic, as opinions are strongly divided over the threat posed by virus variants and Japanese athletes are traditionally averse to controversy.
“There’s a lot to think about. But it’s hard to express my opinions loudly (because) I’m torn over the issue,” said Japanese wrestler Hiroe Minagawa, who qualified in the women’s 76-kilogram category.
A few have expressed measured optimism.
“Until now, media reports tended to be about the negative impact of hosting the games. All we could do was have faith and keep on training, but now that we’re in the fine-tuning stage I have that exciting countdown feel,” said swimmer Kosuke Hagino, winner of the men’s 400-meter individual medley at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“We now know who’s competing from which country, so I have a clearer picture of what to expect,” said Daiya Seto, a former world champion who joins Hagino on the Japan Olympic swimming team.