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From ‘I Told You So’ to Hopeful, Japanese People React To 2020 Olympic Postponement

We all saw it coming.

By 4 min read

The flame for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games arrived in Japan from Greece just in time to be extinguished.

Let’s face it, the COVID-19 pandemic is here and it’ll take months to get back to our normal lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) knows it, the governments know it, hell, we all know it. Regardless of this well-known fact, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government stubbornly put off deciding to postpone the games for weeks.

We both got off the phone with the same painful feeling. I hope we’ll be able to meet and laugh about this in one year.

If it weren’t for the Canadian committee’s decision to withdraw from the 2020 Olympics had it not been postponed, the IOC and the Japanese government would still be turning a blind eye to the current outbreak.

About freaking time

A survey last week showed that two-thirds of Japanese people believed postponing the games was necessary, and it was only a matter of time before the government finally caved in.

This was the perfect opportunity to parody Tokyo Olympic bid ambassador Christel Takigawa’s speech on Japanese おもてなし, a term expressing the spirit of Japanese selfless hospitality, with relatable memes.

Twitter users reshared the parody below spelling out how the Olympic postponement was an obvious move.


No other move.





Let’s reset the clock

The iconic anime Akira predicted 2020 Olympic Game setbacks in a scene that showed a signboard with a countdown until the 2020 opening ceremony. Japanese Twitter peeps kindly offered to reset the countdown timer to 444 days.


“Like this?


Akira also predicted WHO would declare a pandemic.

“The prophecy of the Akira manga.”

In real life, the Olympic countdown clock standing outside Tokyo Station has been reduced to telling time.

Are we really still going to call it Tokyo 2020…?

While the decision to postpone the Olympics didn’t come as a surprise, the Japanese organizers’ desire to keep calling them Tokyo 2020 feels… strange. Japan’s satire newspaper, Kyoko Shinbun, used the opportunity to poke a little fun.

“(Breaking news) In response to the spread of the new pneumonia, the government has decided to extend 2020 by one year. The Tokyo Olympics will be held in 2020 as scheduled, and the timing will be adjusted around September. (Announced by Parody Newspaper / 21:15)”

The idea of a two-year-long 2020 spread fast.

“Breaking News: we’ll keep the Tokyo 2020 name.

If Japan keeps 2020 going until the end of the Tokyo Olympics, then there’s no problem.

July 2021→ 19th month of 2020

August 2021→ 20th month of 2020

September 2021→ 21st month of 2020.”

Japan is unlucky when it comes to hosting the Olympics

The Olympic Games are cursed, according to former Prime Minister Taro Aso. He might just be right as this isn’t the first time the games were set to be hosted in Tokyo but ended up postponed or canceled.

Now, Japan can proudly say “we’ve got all forms of the Olympic Games,” as if it was a bingo card.

“Tokyo 1940: Games are canceled

Tokyo 1964: Games are held

Tokyo 2020: Games are postponed

Breaking News: We’ve completed Olympic cancellation, opening, and postponement.”

See you next year!

Finally, the IOC has decided to hold the Olympics almost exactly a year after the originally planned date. The “Olympic Games Tokyo 2020” is set to run from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021, with the Paralympic Games running from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5. Yes, they are really holding on tight to the “2020” name.

People are already adjusting their plans accordingly, starting with hotel bookings.

“I called the ryokan I booked for the Olympics. Just from my name, they understood the reason for my call. When I asked if I could keep the reservation for next year, they happily let me do so, saying they were hoping they’d still be in business by then. We both got off the phone with the same painful feeling. I hope we’ll be able to meet and laugh about this in one year. #OlympicPostponement”

Staying positive

Many are rightfully upset at how the government is handling (or mishandling) the coronavirus situation in Japan. Some Twitter users, however, reminded us to look to the future and stay optimistic.


“Looking at the emblem, I started seeing how this will be a tournament to celebrate how the world cooperated to overcome the coronavirus. I’m depressed because I hear a lot of depressing news, but I hope we can be happy if we hold the Olympic Games.”

We couldn’t agree more with this message of hope for a future when we’ve overcome the pandemic and are able to hold the Olympics for everyone around the world to enjoy.

Are you planning on coming to Tokyo for the Olympics in 2021? Let us know in the comments.

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