Displaying items by tag: Olympics

Thursday, 24 June 2021 22:34

Japan: Covid-wary Olympics

A month before the Olympics opening ceremony, many Japanese people remain resolutely opposed to the Games, amid fears that the influx of athletes, sport officials and journalists could worsen the continuing Covid outbreak in Tokyo and across the country. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organisers are steadfast in their resolve to continue with the Games as anti-virus measures remain in place; they promise stringent protocols will prevent 93,000 visitors from worsening Japan’s outbreak. But questions still outnumber answers. Doctors and healthcare workers have the strongest opposition voices – an infection surge could overwhelm healthcare systems. ‘Front-line medical workers are being treated as disposable,’ said a 27-year-old nurse in Tokyo.Another factor fuelling public opposition is the sluggish pace of Japan’s vaccine rollout. A former Olympic athlete said the safety of people is not considered the priority. Instead, the IOC’s own interests are being considered the priority.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 18 June 2021 05:32

Japan: Prayers for the Olympic Games

The Olympic games would normally draw Christians from across the world to support and lead mission work alongside the games.  This would be of particular importance to Japan, one of the least reached countries with the gospel of Jesus in the world, with only 0.5% of the population professing to be Christian. 

However the COVID pandemic has hindered many plans, and the question still remains as to whether the games should proceed at all.

Current polls in Japan show nearly 70% of the population do not want the Olympics to go ahead, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) remains steadfast that the spectacle will take place.  Japan has long insisted there was no question the Olympics, which should have taken place last summer, would be held and will be safe and this was reaffirmed by the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the recent G7 conference.

Any decision to cancel the games can only be taken by the IOC and not the host city. The Olympic charter also stipulates that the IOC should ensure "the health of the athletes" and promote "safe sports", Despite all this, the IOC seems determined to go ahead.

There are also serious commercial risks to consider: "Under various clauses within this host city agreement, if Japan was to unilaterally cancel the contract, then by and large, the risks and losses would fall with the local organising committee," Professor Jack Anderson at the University of Melbourne told the BBC.

Some missionary work will continue in Japan, for example IMB missionaries in Tokyo have developed evangelism and outreach plans utilizing both volunteers and Japanese churches and believers. These plans required adapting, first with the postponement of the 2020 Olympics and second with the news that international spectators would not be permitted to attend the games in 2021. IMB missionaries shifted their efforts from being event-oriented to strategy-oriented with a focus on utilizing events to enhance their outreach. Their strategy is two-fold, Bradford said. They will be planting churches and supporting Japanese believers and churches.

There are many Christian athletes competing in the Olympics to follow and pray for.  5 of these are discussed here.

Pray: for the safety of all those involved in the Olympic Games however they may or may not proceed.
Pray: for those making decisions about the event, that compassion and love will feature instead of greed and commercial interest.
Pray: for those sportsmen and sportswomen who use their skills and talents as witnesses for Christ (1 Peter 4:10)
Pray: for those involved in mission work around the Olympics, that they will be led by the Spirit in all they do (Matthew 28:19-20)
Pray: for the people of Japan, who are divided in their support for the games, for a peaceful and gracious spirit.

More / Sources: BBC news, Baptist Press – International Mission Board

IPC will be providing some more detailed prayer briefings in partnership with Japan International Sports Partnership and Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA) to guide our prayers for Japan and the Olympics in next month’s IPC Connections email and on our website.

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