On March 25, 2021, the Olympic torch relay starts at J-Village in Fukushima, where the Great East Japan Earthquake hit and Daiichi Nuclear Plant failed a decade ago. Japan is still dealing with the pandemic and 80% of the public opposes the Games in July, according to any recent poll, for fear of a “super-spreading event”. In this climate, the Organizing Committee of “Tokyo 2020” announced the barring of spectators from overseas except the IOC families and their “corporate friends”, but hasn’t yet decided to cancel the Games.
The Olympic torch relay, invented by Carl Diem and Joseph Goebbels for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, is promoted as a sign of ‘hope’ to ‘overcome’ this uncertain time. In addition to the torch relay, Fukushima is scheduled to hold both baseball and softball games for Tokyo Olympic 2020. While Tokyo Olympic 2020 is touted as ‘Recovery Olympics’, it had nothing to do with the “reconstruction” from its origin: the bidding was a nationalistic political program of the far-right governor of Tokyo since 2006 (Tokyo lost the bid for the 2016 Games). After the natural and human disasters that happened in 2011, Japanese rulers decided to sustain the Olympic bidding project. This clearly signifies that the decision was a political motive to normalize the tragedy and catastrophe. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) endorsed such action by the Japanese government by electing Tokyo Olympic 2020. The departure of the Olympic torch from Fukushima is proof of this enterprise.
Meanwhile, radiation hotspots were found near the Fukushima Olympic site, confirming that the area is not “recovered.” The Olympics itself has been the obstacle for the actual recovery of Fukushima taking away all the labor and other resources. JOC and the organizers are using “Tokyo 2020” as a way to greenwash a national tragedy. The actual recovery from contamination will take time, and for Fukushima residents, this battle feels endless and hopeless.
The general public’s opposition to the Olympics was also present in Rio 2016, however the games were held despite the popular uprising. It is clear the IOC, the government and other Olympic related committees do not care what the public wants. Anti-Olympics groups like us exist in every host city, and continue to grow as the games are scheduled in Paris and Los Angeles. Despite the pandemic, the Olympic machine has barreled forward, displacing people in need, razing public housing and parks, implementing new security theater, destroying iconic cultural landmarks, greenwashing their outdated vision and incurring a mountain of public debt. This happens not only in Tokyo, but every host city.
We, anti-Olympics, anti-gentrification and anti-surveillance groups from all over the world, demand the extinction of the Olympic flame of Tokyo and beyond. We believe that many other things including public health deserve our attention more than such an ephemeral and mercantile spectacle.
March 24, 2021
Extinction Rebellion Pantin and nearby (France)