Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one.

Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)

The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

Olympics Two Tokyos

Recorded: August 9th, 2021


To Tokyo now, where after more than two weeks of competition in everything from Karate to BMX biking to athletics and swimming, the Olympic games has now come to an end. The US finished top of the medal table ahead of China and Japan with the host nation having their best ever performance at an Olympic games. The closing ceremony was an upbeat celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture culminating in all the athletes thanking the people of Japan for hosting the games in the midst of this pandemic. No fans inside the Olympic stadium to enjoy it, though, but plenty did turn up outside to try and catch a glimpse of events.

If you tried to get to the Olympic stadium tonight, this is what you were met with. Hundreds of police blocking alleyways ordering people to move along. Even the closing fireworks lasted just 15 seconds. But if the authorities were trying to prevent the large gatherings that took place during the opening ceremony, then they failed.

Out at the park, the sport loving Uno family have spent much of the last two weeks glued to the telly. But even for them watching the games on TV hasn't been an unmitigated joy.

I really wanted to go and watch. It's totally different to watch on TV than actually being there to watch the games.

It's almost like the Olympics was taking place in another country. We can only watch it on TV. We felt the distance very much.

The last two weeks have really been a tale of two cities, two Tokyos. There's the one behind this fence where there has been this amazing sport and tremendous success for Japan and then there's the Tokyo outside the fence where most of the time you wouldn't even have noticed that the Olympics has been going on. And the same contrast is true for the pandemic. Inside the fence, daily testing means things have been kept pretty well under control but outside the pandemic is now out of control.

Critics say the Olympics has sucked away resources leading the city without enough Covid testing kits or vaccines.

It has left a scar on the Japanese society, meaning, erh, you know, people are divided. And above all these games left health and economic debt. If you look at numbers in Tokyo, erh, it's just astonishing increasing.

There's no doubt Japan's record breaking haul of medals has brought real joy to the host nation. But as the Olympic roadshow leaves town the Olympic host city is being left facing a medical crisis. Rupert Winfield Hayes, BBC news in Tokyo.


The video is at natural speed and and lasts a little under three minutes.The PDF includes the transcript and a crossword.

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