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23 July 2021

Tokyo 2020: The Covid Olympics

The New Statesman's coverage of the world's first pandemic Games since 1920.

By New Statesman

This year’s Olympics and Paralympics were originally billed by Japan as a “recovery” Games that would demonstrate resilience in the face of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. On the eve of the opening ceremony, however, they are much more likely to be defined by the world’s attempt to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the first Games to be held under such conditions since 1920, when the Spanish flu raged through the globe’s population, the event is beset by uncertainty. In a Games already delayed by 12 months due to widespread lockdowns, athletes inside the Olympic village are now testing positive for the virus. Opinion polls among Tokyo residents have recorded considerable opposition.

As the cauldron is lit at the Opening Ceremony on Friday 23 July, international eyes will be as much on Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga as on the competitors. Follow our New Statesman coverage here for analysis and insight into this strangest of Olympic endeavours.

The chaos of the Tokyo Games show what the Olympics is really about: money

By Jonathan Liew

If the International Olympic Committee had cancelled the Games, it would have had to refund roughly £2.9bn to broadcasters.

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How Covid-19 could still disrupt the Olympic Games

By Ido Vock

The Olympics were supposed to symbolise Japan’s recovery from crisis, but they now represent the pandemic’s continuing grip.

Podcast: What the Tokyo Olympics mean to Japan

Emily Tamkin and India Bourke with Tom Feiling

As the country entered another state of emergency, our podcast guest explored how the Japanese were feeling about the Games.

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How the Olympics have thrown the future of Japan’s prime minister into doubt

By Tom Feiling

Japanese voters want Tokyo 2020 to be cancelled and blame PM Yoshihide Suga for his perceived failure to tackle the pandemic.

Questions are mounting over the Tokyo Olympics

By Jeremy Cliffe

In a world still beset by Covid-19, what use is an event billed as a symbol of recovery?

Crisis is engufing the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games, but does the world still need the Olympics?

By Jonathan Liew

TV ratings for the Olympics have steadily fallen, especially among the young – as a crisis of relevance and the issues around hosting become too big to ignore.