Africa: The Silent Games Showcase the Changing Views and Demographics of Japan

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are generating some unexpected human stories, about Japan, and the lives of athletes in the Games.

A personal memory. There I was, perched precariously on my skis, right at the top of the course, poised at the jump-off point for the men’s giant slalom ski course — the actual Winter Olympics course — located in Japan’s Teine Highland ski resort on the island of Hokkaido. From the end of the course, way down at the bottom of the hill (maybe it really was a modest mountain?), it didn’t look so fearsome, I thought. It simply looked like an extended version of the shorter runs where I had been learning the rudiments of some very modest skills at skiing during the past several weekends. But up there where the Olympians had begun those blisteringly fast runs, looking down to the finish line, it now seemed like a nearly vertical, limitless drop into an abyss of white, with the trees flanking the course reduced to tiny models for toy train layouts.

“Okay,” I tell myself, “no more stalling, time to push off.” The honour of the US rested on my suddenly very nervous, less than skilful shoulders, knees,…

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