I have been chosen as a runner for the Olympic Games torch relay.
The decision was made 2 years ago.
The decision was made before we were threatened by the Covid-19 virus.
I remember being so happy about it.
Everyone around the world, regardless of war and politics, get together and enjoy sports for peace.
The Olympic Games is the celebration for peace, and when the decision was made for Tokyo after half a century, everyone in Japan, rejoiced.
First, Olympics in Japan was meant to be a symbol of recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, so we felt that we should do our best towards it. We imagined that we would be lighting the torch, celebrating the recovery, and would be full of joy.
But now, the reality is that the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami have not yet been restored. There are still people struggling to get back to their normal lives, people are struggling from loneliness and living in inconvenient temporary homes, feeling left behind. To those people who do not receive proper information, some think that the reconstruction of Eastern Japan has already completed.
We Japanese thought that the Olympic Games would be a good opportunity to give a boost to the recovery.
However, everything has changed with the advent of Covid-19.
The virus has been gradually spreading since last year.
Who could imagine this would be so terrifying? We thought it would settle down sooner and that it won’t concern us, but that was only for a short while.
It spread rapidly and last spring, when the first State of Emergency was declared, all the concerts got cancelled and I didn’t perform on stage for six months. Everyone in the world realized what had happened.
The fear of the virus spreading like wildfire, all over the world. Countries on lockdown, unsavable lives.
Repeated outbreaks and constant calls for self-restraints.
When rubber bands are pulled too much, they get worn out. We are indeed, getting tired.
And then, the State of Emergency has been declared for the third time from April 25th.
The number of infections is continuously increasing, and the virus is said to have mutated to such an extent that it is becoming so difficult to fight.
What about the Olympic Games then?
Many Japanese people are probably wondering why the Olympics is going ahead. Not only the Japanese but people from around the world are still fighting with the virus, wondering about the Olympics in Tokyo.
Some people have withdrawn from running the Torch relay. Especially the very famous people are declining to be runners as they do not want to take risk of increasing infection by people gathering to watch them.
Some cities have made difficult decisions to abandon the Torch relay and we all do not know what will happen next.
But if the Torch relay itself can be continued in a modest way, and if someone is to carry the torch and connect the symbols of peace, then, I would like to help carrying the light and pass it onto the next. That is what I am thinking at this moment.
I never thought that I would be in such a difficult situation being a Torch relay runner. It was supposed to be a simple joy.
I cannot stop thinking about the people in the medical field who are constantly fighting to save lives, 24 hours a day.
What we all need to do, watching the news about the overwhelmed hospitals is, to think about what the priorities are and whether we are making the right decisions.
I can’t get rid of the anxieties of rolling down a hill.
(As of end of April, 2021)