Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency until the end of this summer’s Olympic Games with an 8pm curfew, while Shigeru Omi, one of Japan’s leading health experts, has stated that holding an event the size of the Olympics during a global pandemic is “abnormal”.

Welcome to Tokyo 2020, in 2021, and what promises to be the most unforgettable, yet somehow forgettable, edition of the world’s biggest sporting and cultural event.

There have been over 50 positive cases recorded already amongst athletes and staff, and a starting gun hasn’t even sounded yet. Eight Team GB members, including six athletes, have been told to isolate after they were detected to have been on a flight from London to Tokyo with a positive testing passenger. How this will aid their preparation for the biggest event of their lives is anyone’s guess.

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Organisers continue to insist that no danger will be caused to the local population. Thomas Bach, the president of the all-powerful International Olympic Committee, has previously said that there is “zero risk” of athletes spreading coronavirus to the local public. These are early days, but a COVID-cloud looms large over the Japanese capital.

Empty stadiums and arenas, save for a notable few, means this summer’s festival will be devoid of atmosphere, emotion and true local flavour. Even the medal ceremonies will be a sterile affair.

Which all leads to two questions – why are these Olympics going ahead, and is anybody looking forward to them?

The general feeling across the UK right now appears to be one of ambivalence. A mix of our own restrictions being lifted, and the press coverage of our competing athletes pushed to one side to concentrate on Japan’s growing third wave have played a part in this. There’s also the mental exhaustion sweeping across England right now following the incredible high – and subsequent low – of the Three Lions at this summer’s Euros. Are we really ready for more intense sporting drama?

That is perhaps a third and, as-yet, unanswered question – what kind of drama will we really see over the next fortnight? As we’ve all experienced over the last year or so, big sporting occasions with no fans in attendance aren’t really much of a spectacle at all. An Olympic Games without the noise and colour of an international collective is barely imaginable. London 2012 was the success it was largely because of the way it was embraced by Londoners and those from around the UK, plus thousands of international travellers.

For some athletes, this summer is the biggest moment of their lives. Do they want to share it with others? Damn right they do. Will it affect their performance? That’s an unknown. But a 100m final without the screaming from 80,000 people in the stands seems barely possible. But that’s how it will be. Whisper it, but there’s even been talk that if COVID cases continued to rise during the Games amongst athletes and officials, then the whole event could get postponed or even cancelled.

A soulless Olympic Games lies in store. There is international sympathy for the organisers, and especially for the athletes, that their moment in the sun has been heavily tainted by worldwide events. Sadly for them, though, the show must go on. As has happened before, nothing gets in the way of the biggest show in town. Not even a global pandemic.