Covid-19 forces Japan to delay the Olympics

Mar 26, 2020

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WHEN THE annals of the new coronavirus are written, a chapter will surely be devoted to the dogged insistence by Japan’s prime minister, Abe Shinzo, that despite a galloping global pandemic the Tokyo Olympic Games would go ahead as planned in July. Mr Abe—the most assertive prime minister since his beloved grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, who secured the 1964 Olympics for Tokyo—is not used to being gainsaid. But on March 24th he at last conceded, declaring that the games would be postponed by a year. The announcement left the Olympic flame stranded in, of all places, Fukushima, the site of a nuclear meltdown in 2011.

Only 12 days earlier Mr Abe had convened a press conference on a Saturday to insist that postponement or cancellation was unthinkable. Japan itself had the coronavirus under control, he said. The games would provide a welcome tonic as the world emerged from the pandemic’s shadow. Yet the shadow was only lengthening as he spoke, shutting down...

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