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[NOTE: This article was published in December 2021]
2021 saw the world head into the second full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were signs of hope as vaccines became easier to get in rich countries. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were a symbol of that hope.
The Games had been delayed a year over fears of surging coronavirus infections, but the sporting extravaganza went ahead even in the face of public disapproval.
The decision to hold the Games — under strict conditions and with almost no spectators — seems to have paid off for Japan. The host nation won a record 27 gold medals at the Olympics, including its first gold in men’s baseball. It also had one of its best Paralympics ever, winning 13 golds.
The year also saw democracy come under attack.
On Jan. 6, supporters of then-President Donald Trump mobbed the U.S. Capitol. They believed Trump’s repeated false claims that the presidential election a month earlier was stolen by the Democratic Party for Joe Biden.
In Myanmar, the military also used claims of election fraud as an excuse to take control of the government, while Hong Kong passed biased pro-China election rules.
As 2022 nears, the omicron variant is spreading quickly, sending some countries back into lockdown. Countries also are wrestling with vaccine resistance, and the desire to open economies up again. (The Japan Times)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.