Whether she wins any medals at the Tokyo Olympics or not, Jade Carey will always know she did the right thing.
That’s more than international and U.S. gymnastics officials can say.
Carey confirmed Tuesday night that she plans to compete as an individual in Tokyo, ensuring the United States can send six women to the Olympics next month. Because her individual spot is nominative, meaning it is hers and hers alone, another American would have been left behind had Carey been part of the four-person U.S. team.
“I’m really excited to be heading to St. Louis next week,” Carey wrote in an Instagram post. “I have every intention to accept the individual spot that I worked very hard to earn by competing in the Apparatus World Cup Series spanning from 2018-2020 when officially offered to me.
“My focus right now is preparing to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and being able to contribute to Team USA in any way possible,” she added. “Thank you for your continued support.”
Let this be a lesson to the International Gymnastics Federation, which insisted on going ahead with a foolish idea made even more ill-advised because of the COVID-19 pandemic. USA Gymnastics, too, which is so petrified of drawing any more criticism that it refused to take a definitive stance on Carey’s options, leaving athletes that the federation claims to care so much about to twist in the wind.
Japan is facing a serious conundrum. It has sunk so much money into the Olympics. Officially, $15.4 billion US dollars. And if Tokyo cancels the Games, the country stands to lose an estimated $16.5 billion. So organizers are loathe to stop the Games. But citizens see a public health danger if the event moves forward. The majority do not want it to happen - especially because most of the country remains un-vaccinated.
Aussie Spirit - the Australian Olympic softball team - is the first international squad to arrive in Japan.
And they're facing unprecedented restrictions - no restaurants, no sightseeing, and certainly no socializing. Most people in Japan don't want the Olympics Games to happen.
They're questioning the sense of 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries traveling to Japan, at a time when serious COVID-19 cases have recently hit new highs.
And the nation's slow vaccination roll out isn't helping either.
Japanese Olympic athletes are now being offered jabs.
But only about two and a half percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated so far. Despite all this, the organizers are standing firm.
The arrival of Australia's softball team is a huge show of confidence in the beleaguered event. All team members tested negative after landing.
Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics abruptly reversed a decision, announced the previous day, to sell alcohol at Olympic venues, following criticism from medical experts and ordinary Japanese.
The games are due to start in one month's time, despite calls for them to be canceled, due to the pandemic.
Organizers portrayed the decision as an anti-virus measure. A weekend poll by the Kyodo News Agency found 86% of respondents believe that the games would spread the coronavirus. But organizers also appear to be responding to charges of showing Olympic athletes and sponsors preferential treatment.
"Are the Olympics an exception, after having placed a burden of anti-infection measures on restaurant operators for so long?" Haruo Ozaki, Chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, asked at a recent press conference.
Tokyo is currently under restrictions that limit alcohol consumption to groups of no more than two people, for up to 90 minutes between 11 AM and 7 PM, at bars and restaurants that are certified as taking proper anti-infection measures.
TOKYO -- Japan's Emperor Naruhito is "extremely worried" that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus, the head of the Imperial Palace said Thursday with the Games opening in one month.
The Games will bring thousands of foreign athletes, officials, sponsors and journalists to Japan during a pandemic, despite caution raised by experts about the risk of infections and the public's persistent calls for cancellation or further postponement.
Yasuhiko Nishimura, grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, told a news conference that the Emperor has voiced concerns.
"His majesty is extremely worried about the current situation of the COVID-19 infections," Nishimura said. "While there are voices of unease among the public, I believe [the emperor] is concerned that holding the Olympics and Paralympics ... may lead to the expansion of the infections."
The delayed Games open July 23, and the Paralympics begin a month later.
Nishimura also urged the organizers to "take every possible anti-virus measures so as not to cause the spread of the infections at the Olympics and Paralympics, where the emperor serves as the Honorary Patron."
The emperor is the symbol of the state with no political power. But like his father, Naruhito has gained broad popularity and his words are highly respected.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is determined to hold the Olympics despite concerns from the public and from public health experts.
Adding to their concern, officials in Izumisano, a town in western Japan hosting the nine-member Ugandan Olympic team for training, said a second member of the team has tested positive for the virus. The first, reportedly a coach, was detected upon arrival Saturday in Tokyo. The rest of the team has been isolating at an Osaka hotel.
Suga eased a third state of emergency in Tokyo that had been in place since late April and switched to less stringent measures focusing on shorter bar and restaurant hours. But experts said Wednesday that infections are already bouncing back in the Tokyo region and could accelerate in coming weeks.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, downplaying the impact of the emperor's concern, said he believed the grand steward expressed "his personal views."
Naruhito, 61, also expressed his concern about the pandemic in his speech at an academic award ceremony Monday: "In order to overcome this challenge, it is important for all of us, in and outside of Japan, to bring our hearts together and cooperate."
Under the plan before a one-year postponement, Naruhito was scheduled to declare the start of the Olympics at the opening ceremony, but details, including his presence at the Games, are yet to be finalized, palace officials said.