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The 2020/2021 Tokyo Olympics: Does Japan get the gold medal or the wooden spoon?

ai generated image. mount fuji in background. olympic stadium in foreground

Paul O’Shea has published a new article on the policy and politics of the Tokyo Olympics in the journal Contemporary Japan, co-authored with Sebastian Maslow

The article examines the policy and politics of the Games, considering the attribution of 'success' and 'failure' to the Olympics across a range of issues, actors, and narratives. Reviewing their economic, public health, soft power, and political impact, the article finds that the Tokyo 2020/2021 Olympics remain deeply ambiguous. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s vision of a proud, 'reborn' Japan showcasing itself to the world obviously did not come to pass; neither did the promise of a 'Recovery Olympics' aiding in the reconstruction of the post-3/11 Tohoku region. Conversely, the predictions of a COVID-19 catastrophe, of even an 'Olympic variant', also failed to transpire. Rather, the Olympics became a pared-down event forced through by vested interests, notably the IOC and Dentsu. The political fallout was contained by one-party dominance in Japan’s democracy, where even a forced mega-event during a pandemic was insufficient to threaten the Liberal Democratic Party’s stranglehold on power.

Link to the article on the Taylor & Francis Online website (new tab).