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Olympics Japan: The Surreal Games

After a yearlong delay and months of hand-wringing that rippled across a pandemic-inflected world, a Summer Games unlike any other is at hand. It’s an Olympics, sure, but also, in a very real way, something quite different.

No foreign fans. No local attendance in Tokyo-area venues. A reluctant populace navigating a surge of virus cases amid a still-limited vaccination campaign. Athletes and their entourages confined to a quasi-bubble, under threat of deportation. Government minders and monitoring apps trying — in theory, at least — to track visitors’ every move. Alcohol curtailed or banned. Cultural exchanges, the kind that power the on-the-ground energy of most Games, completely absent.

And running like an electric current through it all: the inescapable knowledge of the suffering and sense of displacement that COVID-19 has ushered in, both here and around the world. (FOSTER KLUG Associated Press / AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)

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