On March 24, it was officially announced that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games would be postponed by a year to 2021. Given the escalating novel coronavirus pandemic, it was abundantly clear that holding the Olympics in Tokyo from July 24 was impossible. Nevertheless, the Shinzo Abe government, Japanese Olympic Committee, and other organizers insisted right up to the last moment that the Games would be held exactly as planned. This reckless intransigence undoubtedly contributed to the further spread of coronavirus infections in Japan. The government continued to refrain from introducing the much-needed large-scale testing, allowing the number of unknown infections to rise, all because it was determined to hold the Olympics by any means possible. This is yet another example of what we should call an “Olympics disaster,” a calamity caused by the Olympic Games.
The Tokyo gubernatorial election on July 5 saw the incumbent, Yuriko Koike, secure another term with a landslide victory over her opponents. At a press conference immediately after she won, the newly re-elected Governor Koike emphasized “first, fighting the coronavirus; second, holding the Olympics and Paralympics.” But it is plain to all that holding the Games would squander a vast amount of precious resources, diverting them away from the fight against the coronavirus. Attempting to achieve both is implausible. Even supposing that coronavirus infections are brought under control in Tokyo and Japan, it would almost certainly still be impossible to hold the Olympics in 2021 due to the ongoing situation in the rest of the world. The virus continues to spread in the United States, whose athletes always win the highest number of medals at every edition of the Games, while infections are now also on the rise in parts of the globe where sanitation and the healthcare systems are less able to cope.
Holding the Tokyo Olympics is irreconcilable with the realities of the coronavirus era. Not simply postponed, they must be canceled.
Having already consumed some $28 billion, the additional costs of postponement will likely be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more. It is time for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, JOC, and International Olympic Committee to disclose to the public the updated plans for holding the Olympics in Tokyo and make it clear how the costs will be borne.
Any costs incurred as a result of canceling the Olympics should be compensated in full by the various corporations and organizations that have benefited so much from the Olympics, not least the construction companies, real estate developers, and PR and advertising agencies, who have circumvented the law with the cooperation of the government during the preparations for the Olympics to take funds from the public purse and exploit it for their own gain. All the money the organizers are using to prop up the Olympics should be used instead to pay for COVID-19 testing and bolstering the healthcare system, and to provide much-needed financial aid to the individuals, independent business owners, and small or medium-sized businesses that are struggling so much in the economic fallout from the pandemic. Stop pouring money down the Olympics drain. Now is not the time to hold the Olympics.
The IOC has made it clear that it could not agree to any scaling down of the opening ceremony because of its reliance on selling broadcasting rights. Even if scaling-down options were considered, the profits of the sponsors always take precedence. Public opinion is inevitably shifting away from holding the Olympics in Tokyo. As is evident from polls recently reported in the media, a significant proportion of people in Tokyo now agree that the Olympics should not be held in their city.
On March 28, we held a talk in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. The Olympic torch relay was due to start two days before at J-Village, a sports facility built by Tokyo Electric Power Company, which was responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The torch relay was canceled due to the coronavirus but we went ahead with our event. We heard the anger of the local people in Fukushima regarding the relay route, which was chosen in order to promote the government’s claim of the Tokyo Olympics as the “recovery Olympics.” We were reminded yet again of the deceitful tactics of the organizers to present Fukushima to the world as recovered from the 2011 disaster when this is far from the case. And now the “recovery Olympics” is being conveniently repackaged as another chimera, the “post-COVID-19 Olympics,” which organizers claim can serve as a symbol of our apparent recovery from the pandemic.
We demand the immediate cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. But we don’t demand the cancellation only because of the coronavirus crisis. We believe that the upcoming Olympics scheduled to be held in Beijing, Paris, and LA should also be canceled, and that the entire institution of the Olympic Games, which bring so much destruction to so many, must be abolished outright. We denounce the Olympics, whose dangers and harm the coronavirus pandemic has exposed even more. And in solidarity with our fellow anti-Olympics movements around the world, we fight to put an end to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Cancel the Tokyo Olympics! Abolish the Olympics and Paralympics! NOlympics Anywhere!
Attendees at the Cancel the Tokyo Olympics Rally
July 23, 2020