Japan Starting Off Slowly In Crowd-less Venues


The nation of Japan is hosting an Olympic Games amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a global event that rendered the quadrennial competition delayed an entire year. In addition to the postponement, there are many unique changes accompanying this year’s Games, including an absence of fans at sporting venues across the board.

Historically, the host nation has enjoyed an uptick in athletic performances during the Games, largely due to enthusiastic home crowds and contagious fandom spreading throughout the land.

For instance, at the last edition of the Summer Games in Rio, the nation of Brazil reaped 7 gold medals across all of sport, whereas the nation secured just 3 in 2012. The story was similar for Great Britain in 2012, with the country grabbing 29 golds that year compared to 19 in 2008 in Beijing.

Japan is proving to be an anomaly to this trend sans crowds this time around, however, as some the nation’s key athletes have underperformed as things get underway.

We already documented how World Champion and heavy gold medal contender Daiya Seto missed out on the men’s 400m IM final, placing a painful 9th in an event where he entered as a huge favorite. His compatriot Shoma Sato was also shut out of the men’s 100m breaststroke semi-finals, placing 23rd in a pedestrian 1:00.04. Although not looked at as strongly as Seto in terms of medaling in the event, his advancing to at least the top 16 was expected.

The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay also placed 9th and found themselves out of the final after having been ranked 7th heading into the Games.

In an entirely different sport, that of gymnastics, Japan’s Kohei Uchimura uncharacteristically fell from the high bar, and fell hard. The 4-time Olympian is now out of that event’s final, leaving him medal-less.

Naohisa Takato did capture Japan’s first gold of the Olympics in men’s judo and there’s a chance of another with Yui Ohashi as the 3rd-seeded swimmer in the women’s 400m IM.

Although with less expectation, the Japanese women’s water polo team started out with a rough start to the meet too, losing 25-4 to the gold medal favored American women. That set records for most goals scored in a game (25), most goals scored in a half (14), and biggest margin of victory (21) in an Olympic water polo match.

However, on the whole, the nation is underperforming on day 1 and one has to wonder if the silence surrounding them is a big reason why.

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1 month ago

Oh well…. Serves them right. They ruined the Olympic experience for everyone.

1 month ago

Sad to be a host country and for athletes to not meet expectations. Particularly in the Japanese culture where failure is seen more as an absolute.

1 month ago

The Japanese women’s water polo team tied the score at 3-3 at one point in the first quarter, then the U.S. women ran off something like 15 straight goals before the Japanese scored again.

Last edited 1 month ago by JVW

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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