With initial coverage of the Games inevitably focused on the coronavirus, geopolitical tensions have barely been detected. But South Korea and its former colonial ruler, Japan, are doing their best to revive the Olympic tradition. They have clashed over politically charged banners hanging from South Korean team balconies, while a planned appearance by the country’s President Moon Jae-in was abruptly canceled after a Japanese diplomat in Seoul accused him of “jerk off” during a possible summit with your team. Japanese counterpart, Yoshihide Suga.
Visiting reporters are unlikely to garner much sympathy from the Japanese public, as they document the coronavirus-shaped hoops they have to go through to cover Tokyo 2020 events. After all, they are guests in a country where most people I’d rather stay home.
But most have done their job with few complaints and a great price to their patients and gracious hosts. There have been humorous references to jars of saliva collected for testing, shared concerns about notices in hotel lobbies warning of the “consequences” if someone attempts an illicit visit to the nearest convenience store and they complain about the endless waits of officially approved buses and taxis.
But not everyone is behaving well, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which reported that several unidentified people had lost their accreditation for a day after breaking the rules of the Olympic “playbook”. On a more positive note, there have been rave reviews for the jam sandwiches offered in the main press center.
Back in South Korea, the MBC television network apologized after using “inappropriate” images and descriptions to add a splash of color to live coverage of Friday’s parade of scaled-down athletes. Some were guilty of nothing more than a lack of imagination: a pizza for Italy; the Queen and Buckingham Palace for Team GB. Others, however, must have had viewers wondering if the producers had gone crazy. Haitian athletes entered the stadium in the face of images of political unrest, while the Chernobyl disaster accompanied the Ukrainian delegation.
The Marshall Islands, according to MBC, deserve nothing more than a mention of its role as a former nuclear test site for the United States. Little pity, perhaps, that North Korea, with which the South is technically still at war, withdrew from the Tokyo Games earlier this year.