PIERS MORGAN: The boring Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony proved why Games should be cancelled 


I’m not yawning… YOU’RE yawning.

Be honest, we were all bloody falling asleep during that endlessly downbeat and dreary opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics.

It was like watching the Eurovision Song Contest – an annual competition between the most god-awful singers in each European country – with just a handful of smug old farts in suits for an audience, and only attended by the few contestants who could be bothered to turn up.

By comparison to the joyous and spectacular fervor of the opening ceremonies for the past two Olympics in Rio and London, this was frankly an embarrassing snoozefest.

And aside from the tedious ‘entertainment’ – since when was a guy running on a treadmill supposed to thrill the soul? – it just felt so jarringly wrong to observe a soulless procession of gurning flag-waving athletes waving to a sea of silent fake fan faces in the empty 68,000 seats, with a tiny crowd of under 1000 made up solely of privileged foreign dignitaries and diplomats including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and America’s First Lady Jill Biden, International Olympic Committee members and Olympic sponsors.

Though the latter didn’t include any executives from key sponsor Toyota, the largest carmaker in Japan and main supplier of cars for the Games, who pulled Japanese TV ads about the Olympics for fear of alienating its local market as polls show 70% of Japanese people don’t want the Games to go ahead.

Those people believe their leaders have greedily put commercial interests – the Olympics is a money-making machine for host nations – over protecting lives from the pandemic.

I’m not yawning… YOU’RE yawning. Be honest, we were all bloody falling asleep during that endlessly downbeat and dreary opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics

It was like watching the Eurovision Song Contest – an annual competition between the most god-awful singers in each European country - with just a handful of smug old farts in suits for an audience, and only attended by the few contestants who could be bothered to turn up

It was like watching the Eurovision Song Contest – an annual competition between the most god-awful singers in each European country – with just a handful of smug old farts in suits for an audience, and only attended by the few contestants who could be bothered to turn up

Crowds are small so far at the official Team GB Olympic fanzone at Westfield London

Crowds are small so far at the official Team GB Olympic fanzone at Westfield London 

And aside from the tedious 'entertainment' – since when was a guy running on a treadmill supposed to thrill the soul? - it just felt so jarringly wrong to observe a soulless procession of gurning flag-waving athletes waving to a sea of silent fake fan faces in the empty 68,000 seats, with a tiny crowd of under 1000 made up solely of privileged foreign dignitaries and diplomats

And aside from the tedious ‘entertainment’ – since when was a guy running on a treadmill supposed to thrill the soul? – it just felt so jarringly wrong to observe a soulless procession of gurning flag-waving athletes waving to a sea of silent fake fan faces in the empty 68,000 seats, with a tiny crowd of under 1000 made up solely of privileged foreign dignitaries and diplomats 

'Over 4 billion people across the world will be watching these Olympic Games,' Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told NBC News before the ceremony. 'In that context, overcoming the hardship of the coronavirus and to be able to hold the Games, I think there is real value in that.'

‘Over 4 billion people across the world will be watching these Olympic Games,’ Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told NBC News before the ceremony. ‘In that context, overcoming the hardship of the coronavirus and to be able to hold the Games, I think there is real value in that.’

‘Over 4 billion people across the world will be watching these Olympic Games,’ Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told NBC News before the ceremony. ‘In that context, overcoming the hardship of the coronavirus and to be able to hold the Games, I think there is real value in that.’

Is there, Prime Minister?

What real value is there in an event that turns into a public health and public relations fiasco because you decided to prioritise money ahead of lives?

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike boasted: ‘The Tokyo 2020 Games will be a safe and secure event not only for the athletes who will play a leading role in the games, but also for the people of Tokyo and the nation.’

But it’s already clear that it’s not remotely safe.

Tokyo, like the country of Japan itself, is now in a state of emergency as new covid cases surged by nearly 50% in a week to more than 2,000 yesterday, and a public health expert warned the bubble system at the Athletes Village was ‘broken’ after over 100 Olympic athletes and staff tested positive.

When this inevitably leads to a spike in cases among the general population, of whom only 30% have been vaccinated, it will spark understandable fury. 

All this augurs ominously badly for the Games themselves which are due to run for the next fortnight.

I normally love the Olympics, but I’ve got to be honest: I don’t care about these ones.

In fact, I believe they should have been either postponed again to when they can be held properly – or cancelled altogether as they have been three times previously in 1916, 1940 and 1944, all when the world was at war, as it is now with Covid-19.

Covid that presents a far greater threat to the ability of these Games to even finish, not least because so many of the athletes remain unvaccinated as the virus starts to run riot. Indeed, one in six of Team USA Olympians has not had a single jab

Covid that presents a far greater threat to the ability of these Games to even finish, not least because so many of the athletes remain unvaccinated as the virus starts to run riot. Indeed, one in six of Team USA Olympians has not had a single jab

Tokyo, like the country of Japan itself, is now in a state of emergency as new covid cases surged by nearly 50% in a week to more than 2,000 yesterday, and a public health expert warned the bubble system at the Athletes Village was 'broken' after over 100 Olympic athletes and staff tested positive. When this inevitably leads to a spike in cases among the general population, of whom only 30% have been vaccinated, it will spark understandable fury. Pictured: Team Great Britain's Hannah Mills and MOhamed Sbihi leads their team into the ceremony

Tokyo, like the country of Japan itself, is now in a state of emergency as new covid cases surged by nearly 50% in a week to more than 2,000 yesterday, and a public health expert warned the bubble system at the Athletes Village was ‘broken’ after over 100 Olympic athletes and staff tested positive. When this inevitably leads to a spike in cases among the general population, of whom only 30% have been vaccinated, it will spark understandable fury. Pictured: Team Great Britain’s Hannah Mills and MOhamed Sbihi leads their team into the ceremony 

A dark cloud has lurked over the Tokyo Games for many months, and not all of it linked to coronavirus.

The organising committee president Yoshiro Mori resigned in a sexism scandal after the 83-year-old was quoted as saying women talk too much and that meetings with multiple female directors would ‘take a lot of time’.

Olympics’ creative chief Hiroshi Sasaki quit too after he called a Japanese actress an ‘Olympig’ and suggested she wear pig ears at the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was sensationally fired on the eve of the opening ceremony after historical footage emerged of him making vile jokes about the Holocaust.

And the event’s musical composer Keigo Oyamada went too, after it emerged he had bullied a school classmate with learning disabilities as a child and then boasted about it in interviews.

Even by Olympic organizer standards, this was really setting a new gold medal bar of shambolic, scandalous achievement.

The Tokyo Olympics, in comparison to the joyous and spectacular fervor of the packed and colorful opening ceremony in Rio in 2016,  was an embarrassing snoozefest

The Tokyo Olympics, in comparison to the joyous and spectacular fervor of the packed and colorful opening ceremony in Rio in 2016,  was an embarrassing snoozefest

The London Olympics in 2012 also put on a dazzling display in comparison to the muted opening ceremony in Tokyo

The London Olympics in 2012 also put on a dazzling display in comparison to the muted opening ceremony in Tokyo 

But it’s covid that presents a far greater threat to the ability of these Games to even finish, not least because so many of the athletes remain unvaccinated as the virus starts to run riot.

Indeed, one in six of Team USA Olympians has not had a single jab.

Then there’s the question of basic fairness.

Amber Hill is ranked No1 in the world for women’s skeet shooting and was one of Britain’s biggest hopes for a gold medal.

But after testing positive for covid in London two days ago, she is now barred from travelling to Tokyo and cannot compete.

‘There are no words to describe how I’m feeling right now,’ Hill said. ‘After five years of training and preparation, I’m absolutely devastated.’

Of course, she is, who wouldn’t be?

Hill has no symptoms and doesn’t feel remotely sick.

So, this isn’t like suffering an unfortunate injury of the kind all athletes accept may affect their ability to compete in tournaments.

It’s the worst, cruellest of blows.

First Lady Jill Biden was among the tiny crowd of under 1000 made up solely of privileged foreign dignitaries and diplomats

First Lady Jill Biden was among the tiny crowd of under 1000 made up solely of privileged foreign dignitaries and diplomats 

But even if Hill had made it out there, and won Gold, she would have found so much of the magic of that moment is dead this time.

Due to draconian covid restrictions, winners will have to wear masks on the podiums and put their own medals, handed to them by officials wearing disinfected gloves, around their necks.

All to the deafening sound of virtual silence from an empty stadium.

It’s hard to imagine a less inspiring moment or image for an Olympian who’s dreamed all their life of this, isn’t it?

And that’s before we even get to other troublesome issues, like the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, in what many see as a direct threat to the viability of women’s sport.

Is anyone truly going to feel the spirit of the newly adapted Olympic motto ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger, Together’ applies if Hubbard wins Gold and deprives a woman born to a physically inferior female biological body of victory?

And what’s going to happen if ‘activist’ American hammer thrower Gwen Berry wins a medal, decides to ignore an Olympic ruling not to make political gestures during medal ceremonies, and performs another churlish tantrum as the US anthem plays, as she did in the trials?

Outside the Olympic stadium today, as multi-millionaire bling merchant John Legend wailed about imagining a world of no possessions, hundreds of mainly Japanese protestors chanted 'STOP THE OLYMPICS!' and carried placards saying, 'LIVES OVER OLYMPICS!'

Outside the Olympic stadium today, as multi-millionaire bling merchant John Legend wailed about imagining a world of no possessions, hundreds of mainly Japanese protestors chanted ‘STOP THE OLYMPICS!’ and carried placards saying, ‘LIVES OVER OLYMPICS!’

When the people from the country hosting an Olympic Games want it canceled because they fear for their safety and lives, it's time to take serious notice

When the people from the country hosting an Olympic Games want it canceled because they fear for their safety and lives, it’s time to take serious notice

Call me cynical, but I’d put good money on her doing just that purely to raise her profile, and it will do nothing but enrage most Americans watching back home.

Nothing about these Games is making me feel anything but depressed.

Outside the Olympic stadium today, as multi-millionaire bling merchant John Legend wailed about imagining a world of no possessions, hundreds of mainly Japanese protestors chanted ‘STOP THE OLYMPICS!’ and carried placards saying, ‘LIVES OVER OLYMPICS!’

When the people from the country hosting an Olympic Games want it canceled because they fear for their safety and lives, it’s time to take serious notice.

I agree with them. The shambolic, disorganised, dangerous Tokyo Olympics is a recipe for covid disaster and should be canned before it’s too late.



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