sport news Can poster girl Naomi Osaka calm a tense Tokyo that needs their Olympic Games ...

sport news Can poster girl Naomi Osaka calm a tense Tokyo that needs their Olympic Games ...
sport news Can poster girl Naomi Osaka calm a tense Tokyo that needs their Olympic Games ...

The small, indistinct figure who took the torch on Friday and lit the cauldron in the cavernous darkness of the Olympic Stadium is in every way a metaphor for her country and its mixed feelings about the Tokyo Games.

Though Naomi Osaka's modest smile told the world what this meant to her, it was hard not to sense that something more complicated and ambivalent lay behind it.

For a real sense of Osaka, watch the new Netflix documentary, timed to coincide with these Olympics and intended to provide a more positive narrative of her life. It tells the melancholic story of an individual who, for all her talent, seems to struggle to find joy in any of it.

Naomi Osaka lit up the Olympic flame at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic ceremony on Friday

Naomi Osaka lit up the Olympic flame at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic ceremony on Friday

The 23-year-old has now become her country's beacon of hope ahead of the Games

The 23-year-old has now become her country's beacon of hope ahead of the Games

The granular details of her loneliness away from home and torture in the promotional attachments of fame build a picture of a 23-year-old conflicted by the big moments. Which is precisely how Tokyo feels about what is to come. 

On the outside, the welcome could not have been warmer for the tens of thousands of outsiders who have flooded into a city where the number of hospitalised Covid patients passed 2,500 on Thursday. 

But Tokyo is a city living on its nerves. Living on the edge.

It is not the Japanese way to state this publicly. There is an expression here, gaman shimasu, meaning 'I will endure it', which explains the lack of open disgruntlement.

Tokyo citizens protested against the Games during Friday's ceremony at the Olympic Stadium

Tokyo citizens protested against the Games during Friday's ceremony at the Olympic Stadium

'The protest isn't visible because we Japanese don't normally do aggressive protest demonstration at least in recent years,' says a journalist working for the national broadcaster NHK.

'They would be the one who would be criticised if they held a larger protest by gathering many people.'

But the sentiment seems to be felt in a city currently in a fourth state of emergency, where the roads were deserted as the media taxis and buses rolled up to the elegant, wooden-framed Olympic Stadium.

Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun published a poll, conducted last weekend, which showed 55 per cent of the public against the Olympics and only 33 per cent support holding the event.

A recent survey states over half of Japan are against the Games going ahead due to Covid

A recent survey states over half of Japan are against the Games going ahead due to Covid

It was to have been the Games which showed Japan's recovery from the devastating tsunami, 10 years ago. No one anticipated another calamity.

The fervent hope has to be that the threat of Covid spreading will abate as the days pass and that medals will flow for Japan in the kind of abundance which helps to make such an imposition worth it.

Osaka could

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