Lack of world leaders at the Olympics will damage Japan’s image

Non-participation of the majority of world leaders in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo will damage the image of this solemn event. This opinion was expressed by an expert in sports diplomacy and director of the program of sport, politics, management and international development of Edinburgh University Lee Jong Woo.

“French President Emmanuel Macron will attend the opening ceremony because Paris will host the next Summer Olympics, and his appearance will save the face of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Nevertheless, the absence of international leaders on the spot certainly reduces the diplomatic value of the solemn event and will subsequently upset many political elites in Japan,” said the expert.

Being a sporting event, the Olympics nevertheless has traditionally been a platform for diplomatic exchanges between high-ranking politicians from different countries. The opening ceremony of the Games in London in 2012 was attended by leaders of 80 countries, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – about 40. As previously expected in Tokyo, the Olympics in the Japanese capital will be marked by “the same degree of attendance by leaders as the Olympic Games in 2016.

However, so far the French president is the only foreign leader who has expressed his intention to come to Japan.