Officials say Olympic cancellation, no fans still an option
Officials say Olympic cancellation, no fans still an option
Credit: Kyle Dias

According to the Kyodo news agency, Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic party, said in a television interview on Thursday that cancelling this year's Olympic Games could be an option if Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

It is the first time that a senior government figure has admitted on the record that the Tokyo competition might not go ahead should the pandemic situation in Japan intensify.

Regional News • World
North Korea will not participate in Tokyo Summer Olympics over fear of Covid-19
North Korea will not participate in Tokyo Summer Olympics over fear of Covid-19
Credit: / Thomas Evans

North Korea will not attend the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the North's Olympic Committee announced, saying it "decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games during the general assembly to protect our athletes from the global health crisis situation related to the coronavirus as proposed by committee members."

The country, which has a history of no transparency, claims that it has not had any confirmed cases nor deaths related to Covid-19.

IOC chief Thomas Bach reelected until 2025
Thomas Bach, during the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games
Thomas Bach, during the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games Credit: Republic of Korea (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Thomas Bach is reelected as president of the International Olympic Committee. The German lawyer was unopposed and won the vote 93-1, with four members abstaining.

Bach said Tokyo was "the best prepared Olympic city ever" and reiterated that the Games would open July 23.

He also signed future Olympic hosts Paris and Los Angeles, while Brisbane, Australia, is now being fast-tracked for 2032 -- a move aimed at avoiding expensive campaigns and allegations of vote-buying.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Art & Design
Netflix to offer anime scholarship taught by Studio Ghibli animator
Netflix to offer anime scholarship taught by Studio Ghibli animator
Credit: Studio Ghibli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Netflix has teamed up with Japanese anime studio WIT Studio to offer a 6-month long full scholarship for up-and-coming anime artists created by former Studio Ghibli animator Hitomi Tateno. The scholarship will be offered to ten individuals and will take place at the Sasayuri Video Training Institute in Tokyo. Students between the ages of 18 and 25 can apply and, while non-Japanese citizens may be considered they must have conversational Japanese.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori resigned
Yoshiro Mori
Yoshiro Mori Credit: World Economic Forum (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

After his apology for sexist remarks failed to quell domestic and overseas outrage, Yoshiro Mori resigned his position as the president of the Tokyo Olympics Organising Committee.

Last week, Mori sparked international outrage by saying, "Board meetings with women take too long because they talk too much." The 83-year-old former prime minister of Japan later apologized, but by then, the damage had been done.

Tokyo 2020: IOC says Yoshiro Mori's remarks about women are 'absolutely inappropriate'
Yoshiro Mori
Yoshiro Mori Credit: World Economic Forum (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, said last Wednesday that women talk too much and that meetings with many female board directors would "take a lot of time". Around 440 Games volunteers have quit in response to Mori's comments.

On Tuesday, the IOC added the remarks were "in contradiction" to its "commitments and the reforms of its Olympic Agenda 2020" - though it did not mention any further action against Mr Mori.

"Besides Mr Mori's apology, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee also considers his comment to be inappropriate and has reaffirmed its commitment to gender equality," the IOC said.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Tokyo: State of emergency declared issued amid Coronavirus surge

Japan has issued a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding areas - Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba. Schools, gyms, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to remain open under certain restrictions. Restaurants will have to shorten their opening hours or be "named and shamed" by the government. The state of emergency will end of February 7th.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japan considers 1-month long state of emergency for Tokyo area

Japan is considering declaring a state of emergency as numbers of Coronavirus cases rise. It would apply to Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa. In his new year's speech, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga already hinted at measures to keep the virus from spreading. Japan reported 4520 new cases on December 31st and 3158 on January 3rd.

Regional News • Asia • Japan
Japanese government announces that taxis in Tokyo can refuse passengers without masks
Japanese government announces that taxis in Tokyo can refuse passengers without masks
Credit: / Josh Wilburne

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has approved a new regulation for taxi operators, which states that they can refuse passengers who are not wearing masks. Drivers are required to ask customers why they do not wear masks when they board and check to see if there are any unavoidable circumstances, such as illness. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism explains the reason for the approval, saying, "This is not only for the driver but also to prevent the next passenger from becoming infected".

Regional News • Asia
Tokyo’s first female governor gets re-elected for second term
Yuriko Koike in 2017
Yuriko Koike in 2017 Credit: 江戸村のとくぞう (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to exit polls, Yuriko Koike, Tokyo’s first female governor has been re-elected with 60 percent of the vote. Koike has stated that she wants "to manage an effective response to Covid-19" as the numbers have been over 100 new cases per day for the fourth day in a row and added that she'll do her "best with this second term". According to additional questions in the exit polls, Koike has gotten positive ratings for the fight of the Covid-19 pandemic in Tokyo as she pushed for stronger actions than the national government.

Lifestyle • Travel
All Asia Disney parks have reopened after 4-month closure
Entrance of Disneyland Tokyo, Japan
Entrance of Disneyland Tokyo, Japan Credit:éo A.

With the reopening of the Disney Resort in Tokyo, all of Disney's Asian parks have reopened as of July 1. Disneyland in Shanghai has opened its doors for visitors in May and Disneyland Hong Kong welcomed visitors back in June. Visitors have to follow social distancing rules and wear masks at all times. Disneyland Tokyo and Japan's DisneySea parks have introduced further safety guidelines such as mandatory temperature checks, advanced ticket bookings and no physical interaction with actors.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
United Airlines to close three international flight crew bases
Boeing 747-400 by United Airlines at Frankfurt Airport
Boeing 747-400 by United Airlines at Frankfurt Airport Credit: Jonekw13 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

United Airlines announced in an internal memo to crew it is closing its international bases for flight attendants in Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and Tokyo effective October 1.

“This was certainly a very difficult decision to make, and we recognise that closing any base places a hardship on those who live near those locations,” John Slater, United’s Senior VP for Inflight Services, said in the memo.

The only international base the company will maintain is for London’s Heathrow Airport.

Japan to consider a 'simplified' Olympics in 2021
Japan to consider a 'simplified' Olympics in 2021
Credit: Kyle Dias

Yuriko Koike, Tokyo’s governor, stated it might be necessary to a organise a “simplified” Olympics in 2021 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We will move ahead with the items that should be streamlined and simplified,'' Koike said, without giving any additional details on the possible downsizing.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported that organisers are considering options as mandatory Covid-19 testing and having fewer spectators in the events.

Technology • Games
Pac-Man turns 40
Pac-Man arcade machine
Pac-Man arcade machine Credit: Peter Handke (Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)

Developed by Toru Iwatani and released by the Japanese company Namco, the first Pac-Man machine was unveiled in a Tokyo arcade on May 22, 1980.

With more than 400,000 gaming cabinets sold to arcades around the world, Pac-Man is the best-selling arcade game of all time.

Regional News • Asia
Japan partly lifts state of emergency as Covid-19 cases fall

The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abo, has announced that the country is lifting the state of emergency for most of the country but urges people to keep up physical distancing, wearing masks and upholding hygiene standards. The island Hokkaido, Tokyo and Osaka are still subject of the state of emergency as new cases are still emerging in these regions.

Tokyo Olympics next year could be cancelled without a coronavirus vaccine

It will be difficult for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games next year unless there is an effective vaccine against the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, Yoshitake Yokokura, the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA) said Tuesday.

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo Games until July 23, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections across the country.

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee Yoshiro Mori states there would be no more delays: “No, in that situation, it will be canceled,” he said. “In the past, when there were such problems, like wartime, it has been canceled. This time, we are fighting an invisible enemy.”.

Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed to 2021

After talks with IOC President Thomas Bach, the prime minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe announced the postponement of the Summer Olympic games to 2021.

2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed according to IOC member

According to IOC member Richard Pound the committee has decided to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021 and will announce its decision soon. Neither IOC nor the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has announced a decision or replied to Pounds comment.