Media Mix, July 10, 2021

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about how the press moved away from talking about public opposition to the Olympics as it became clear that the powers that be would hold them regardless of how the pandemic developed. Since I wrote the column, the situation has changed even more. It’s no longer a question of how many spectators would be allowed to watch the events. Now, apparently, there will be no spectators except those associated with the IOC and the local organizers. Obviously, the press can’t avoid covering that aspect, but, again, what’s most important is avoiding the impression that the games are still very unpopular right now. Next week’s column will be about, in part, protests against the Olympics, which the press is covering in such a way as to make it seem like a fringe thing. Yesterday, on his VideoNews web talk show, journalist Tetsuo Jimbo said that a civic group filed a lawsuit on Thursday to stop the Olympics, and the only mention of it I can find so far is from Kyodo.

What needs to be stressed is that the public’s opinion is, as Heizo Takenaka so stridently claimed, not important; or, at least, not important to the people who came up with the idea of hosting the Olympics and then promoting it once Tokyo was selected. No one asked the people of Tokyo if they wanted to be a host city, and while some will wave this concern away in the belief that everybody loves the Olympics, other cities have attempted to gauge public opinion on the matter and some cancelled their plans to bid for the games after it became clear there was little or no public support. As costs have skyrocketed over the years, placing a heavier burden not only on Tokyo residents but likely Japanese taxpayers, the ill feelings have just intensified. We are now actually facing the worst case scenario—not cancelling the games, but holding them behind closed doors in an environment where such an endeavor could very well cause an explosion of illness. For anyone in Japan still looking forward to the events, they will have to watch them on TV just like the rest of the world. There’s absolutely no benefit for Japan or Tokyo to hosting the Olympics, except maybe some vague sense of pride. But pride for what? Having made it to the point of being able to hold the Olympics without as many people dying as did in the U.S. or India? I suppose that’s something, but cold comfort to the people of Tokyo, who can’t even go out for a drink while the games are taking place.

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