What the Japanese Think of the Olympics

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The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo were supposed to be a symbol of recovery — a signal to the world that, after a huge earthquake in 2011, Japan had bounced back.

The pandemic overwhelmed those plans, but both the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government are determined to hold the delayed Games this year. That is despite the concerns about thousands of international athletes descending on Tokyo while the coronavirus still hangs over the world.

In Japan, the worry is widespread. Less than 10 percent of the population is vaccinated. And in polls, about 85 percent of people say they fear that the Olympics will cause a rebound of the virus in Japan.

Will the sense of discontent fade as the Games begin?

On today’s episode

Motoko Rich, the Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times.

Background reading

Why haven’t the Tokyo Games been canceled? The answer lies in billions of dollars, years of work and thousands of athletes who can’t wait any longer.

Japan’s latest outbreak is receding and vaccinations are slowly picking up, but health experts warn that the government must remain vigilant.

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Transcripts of each episode are available by the next workday. You can find them at the top of the page.

Motoko Rich contributed reporting.

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