Governments all over the world are engaged in the delicate balancing act between public health and national economy. The most precarious at the moment is Japan. Japan is staking its reputation as one of the safest, most efficient, and well-organized nations in the world as it prepares to host the Olympic Games from July 23 to August 8 in the midst of a state of emergency.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on July 8 that a state of emergency will take effect in Tokyo from July 12 until August 22. This is the fourth time the city has been placed under this status since the start of the pandemic. This is due to a resurgence of COVID cases in Japan’s big cities and densely populated areas and concerns over the Delta variant. Only 15% of its population has been fully vaccinated so far. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike reported that “The situation is becoming increasingly severe.”
In the midst of this emergency, the Olympic Games, probably the largest international event to be staged since the beginning of the pandemic—which was already postponed from 2020—will push through. The decision is highly controversial because it is viewed by many as a potential superspreader not only in Japan but around the world, as thousands of athletes and officials arrive and return to their home countries. The implication of the state of emergency is that no spectators will be allowed in the Games in the host city for the first time in history. A limited number could still be allowed for events held in other prefectures.
During a survey held in May, 83% of the Japanese were against the Olympics being held and preferred to either cancel or postpone again. According to Pastor Scott Douma who leads Every Nation Japan, “The people of Japan are very divided about the Olympics . . . so much money and energy being spent on something that most people feel should have been canceled last year. Pray that the Olympics will run smoothly, and instead of causing more division, bring national hope and a healthy inspiration.”
The primary reason Japan’s government is determined to continue with the Olympics is that they stand to lose around US$ 20 billion in investments and refunds should they cancel. Many also view the prime minister’s political future as dependent on the staging of the Games.
Pastor Scott also noted that the pandemic has brought about isolation and loneliness. He asks for prayers as our churches are able to meet in limited groups, yet more than half of church members stay home. However, he reported that “many family and friends are joining in the worship services. Even in the pandemic, most of our churches are reporting baptisms. Pray that we catch this ‘wave’ that the virus has caused and ride it for God’s glory.”
Let us stand in the gap for the nation of Japan and our Every Nation churches.
- Ask God for a successful staging of the Olympic Games and for all participants and spectators to be kept safe and healthy.
- Stand with our Japanese brothers and sisters for the new surge of the virus to cease and for the Delta variant to stop spreading.
- Let us agree with Pastor Scott that the Games will have a unifying and inspiring effect on the Japanese and the world. May it provide moments of joy and triumph for all as the world continues to battle the pandemic.
- Intercede for our Every Nation churches in Japan. Pray that thousands of Japanese will open their hearts to the message of the gospel during this crisis.
Every Nation is a global family of churches and campus ministries, of which Victory is a founding member.
We are called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). This is the reason we value world missions as a church and persistently pray for the nations every month.
To learn more about the situation in Japan, you can check the news and resources in the links below.
- Japan Times article on the Tokyo Olympics barring fans under new COVID-19 emergency
- Inquirer article on the Tokyo Olympics banning spectators
- BBC article on the Tokyo Olympics being held without spectators
- The Asahi Shimbun article about how a majority of the population is against holding the Tokyo Olympics
- New York Times article on why the Olympics will still push through