We’ve been following all the athletes and the action in the stadiums, but what’s it like to be living in Japan during a pandemic and the Olympics?
We asked a longtime resident to find out.
John Daub is a YouTuber who created Only In Japan TV, a journalist and contributor to NHK. He has lived in Japan for over 20 years. His dream was to be at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, but all the pandemic restrictions held him back.
“As a resident of Tokyo, I was really excited because we’ve been trying to get the games since 2007 and we finally got it in 2020," Daub said. "The people here are really disappointed. Despite the fact that I live not too far away from this neighborhood, I can’t go to any venues. It just feels like an utter disappointment and a lot of my neighbors feel the same way.”
The Tokyo Olympics didn’t exactly start out popular. Many Japanese residents protested and called for a cancellation as COVID cases ticked up, but Daub says he noticed a bit of a shift when the games began.
“I think once the Olympics started and they started to see the medals start to pile up for Japan, there was a little bit of national pride," Daub said. "Once they started, a lot of people just gave in and said 'let’s try to enjoy this the best way that we can and have a positive outlook on the Olympics and personally that’s been my direction with this. It’s not much of a political issue for me. It’s now about the competitors and the athletes that trained so hard to get here.”
As tourism in Japan has been impacted by COVID-19, Daub has shown a different side of Japan in his content. You can feel his love for the unique culture, cuisine and full-on experience of Japan.
“I love Japan, I’ve been here for half my life now and this country has been so good to me, Daub said. "It’s now my home and my wife is Japanese, my son is Japanese-American. I want to show all the beautiful things that I discovered when I first came here in 1998. It was such a unique and magical place.”
His top three reasons for loving Japan?
“The safety, the food and the trains.”
It may be a long time before the world gets a handle on COVID, but hopefully people can visit Japan soon to see what it has to offer.
It’s definitely been a different Olympic experience for athletes and those living here, but that Olympic cauldron continues to burn bright and bring hope.