Probably no other host of the Olympic Games has been as invisible as Japan is now.

Of course, this has to do with the Corona rules, which hardly allow the journalists who have traveled to come into contact with the world outside their protected zones.

Too great curiosity about the presumably driven rather than self-acting host of the games does not seem to exist anywhere else.

This gives the impression that these Olympic Games are just taking place in a media no man's land.

But Japan, which is under such great external and internal pressure, is creating images these days that have succeeded in doing something very special: They give the turmoil between threat, grief and the bravado of life, to which the whole world is exposed during the pandemic, a fragile and precisely for this reason convincing Shape. Even the Olympic opening with which Japan presented itself to the world was unique. "The worst opening ceremony ever," said Murdoch broadcaster Fox Sports. In reality, the unusually anti-triumphalistic, non-perfectionist, sometimes almost improvised character of this celebration was due to the decision to face the oppressive reality all around with the greatest possible ruthlessness.Public opinion - according to surveys, eighty percent of Japanese people opposed hosting the Games because of Covid - had put the organizers under pressure not to allow themselves the slightest wrong tone. Otherwise, wrote sports sociologist Yuji Ishizaka, the world will receive the message that “Japan's culture has been broken”.

Long shadows

The originally planned demonstration of power by the Japanese cultural industry, with which the nation wanted to celebrate its resurrection from the economic depression and the Fukushima catastrophe, became something completely different. The strange external circumstances - the almost empty stadium tiers, the masked athletes, the depressed expressions of the emperor and the prime minister - found an exact equivalent in the demonstrations: in the long shadows cast by three athletes practicing lonely on their machines; in the national anthem melancholy interpreted by the pop singer Misia; in the minute of silence for the victims of Corona, Fukushima and the Munich Olympic attack in 1972. And also the signs of hope later - the globe formed from 1824 drones, for example, which hovered over the stadium, or the stylized Mount Fuji,over which the tennis player Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic flame - were tuned to minor in the empty stadium area.

According to a survey by the Kyodo news agency, 87 percent of Japanese are very concerned about the rise in infections, but at the same time 71 percent want to watch the competitions. With the many Japanese medals, the mood seems to be turning towards the games, writes The Japan News. By not resolving conflicting feelings to one side, Japan becomes capable of the realistic collective expression of the global crisis that other parts of the world cannot. The exuberant crowd scenes of the European Football Championship, for example, were an expression of the desire for freedom, but also of repression.

One of the forms that Japan has found is that it is not a self-assured gesture, but only a preliminary touch that can be revised at any time as the infection develops. “What we see is a restrained enthusiasm,” says sports sociologist Ishizaka. We have reason to worry about Japan.