No 2030 Winter Olympics in Sapporo! Nationwide and Global Declaration of Opposition to the Bid
The Olympic and Paralympic Games were held in Tokyo in summer 2021 in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, a trauma from which society has yet to recover. The International Olympic Commission (IOC) retains absolute authority over whether to hold the Games and decided to go ahead with the Olympics, choosing profit over human life. The highly political Olympics prioritize the interests of the IOC. The Japanese government also bears much of the responsibility for the disastrous Olympics, having won them for Tokyo based on the lie that they would be the “recovery Olympics” after Fukushima and the tsunami that devastated the northeast of the country, and falsely claiming that the situation with the nuclear power plant meltdown is “under control.” It’s not only such lies, however, that persuaded the IOC; the bid was also won through massive bribes. Former IOC member Lamine Diack, who died on December 3, 2021, was arrested and convicted of accepting bribes. French authorities, meanwhile, are investigating Tsuneyoshi Takeda, former president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, in relation to the suspicious funds paid to a bank account linked to Diack’s son. The head of the organizing committee for the Rio Olympics, Carlos Nuzman, was sentenced by a federal court in Brazil to nearly thirty-one years in jail in late November for crimes connected to buying votes (via Lamine Diack) for the 2016 Games. The IOC and Japanese government, along with Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the JOC, and Tokyo 2020 organizing committee all colluded to hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the city. Cleaning up the mess left behind from all the corruption and devastation is a task that will take Japan years to complete, at the cost of ordinary people’s futures. It is a truly sobering prospect.
And yet what beggars belief is that even though we are only just starting to grapple with paying off the massive debt that Tokyo 2020 racked up, the city of Sapporo is now planning to make a bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. On November 29, it announced a new Games plan in which it proposed to reuse existing venues and reduce the originally estimated costs by as much as $800 million, claiming that the Games would cost “only” around $2.65 billion. The city said that this would be covered entirely by the IOC’s contribution, sponsorship, and income from ticket sales, and that they wouldn’t have to use taxes. They are already lying. As we know, the costs of hosting the Tokyo Olympics swelled from the original budget of $6 billion to around $15.4 billion, and that was just what was included in the direct Games costs: the actual cost was over $27 billion, almost all of it paid for out of the public purse. At the height of the pandemic in 2021, over 80 per cent of the Japanese public, not to mention people around the world, opposed holding the Olympics at such a time. But in the contract made by the host city with the IOC, the power to cancel or postpone resides solely with the IOC. The host city has to put up the money but doesn’t get a say in the matter. Now Sapporo wants to commit itself to this incredibly unfair arrangement. As the experience of the previous Olympics blatantly showed, where the marathon and race walking competitions were relocated from Tokyo to Sapporo without properly consulting the local residents or government, the decision-making process for the Games is highly undemocratic and ignores the voice of ordinary people. Even covering the (currently announced) $400 million for non-operation costs for the venues is a no small feat for Sapporo. And given that the Olympics always run over budget, will local residents really be willing to accept the spiraling costs? The opinion polls already show plenty of opposition. Sapporo has said that it will conduct a Hokkaido-wide survey next spring to sound out the opinion of residents, though this may be a token gesture, since it has not announced plans for a referendum on the matter, no doubt because its intention to submit a bid is a fait accompli.
When factoring in both direct and related costs, the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics cost over $13 billion by current exchange rates. But we will never know the true cost, because financial ledgers for the bid were destroyed and the details of the outlay are even now not available. The Games ran over budget and made a net loss: it took the city some twenty years to pay back the debt of $610 million it accrued (based on current exchange rates), while the competition venues today are rusting and abandoned. Even the bobsleigh and luge track, the only such facility in Japan and built at a cost of $89 million (four times its original budget), has been unused since the end of the 2017 fiscal year due to the $2.6 million required to maintain it annually. Even dismantling the dilapidated facility is likely to cost more than $9 million and is too much for the city to pay. The announced plan to reuse the track for the proposed Sapporo Winter Olympics is essentially a bailout. Even among the seven newly built competition venues for the Tokyo Olympics, including the New National Stadium, only Ariake Arena is expected to operate in the black, having made a twenty-five-year contract with Dentsu-led consortium for the operating rights. Here we see glimpses of the reality behind the Olympics: the private sector profits while the debts are paid for by taxpayers. The use of the New National Stadium, whose annual maintenance bill runs to $21 million, is still undecided. Who will make up the shortfall of over $9 million for the stadium and the other five sports venues each year? Tokyo taxpayers.
Many of the competition venues from the 2016 Rio and 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics are already white elephants. The large-scale development undertaken for the Olympics every two years results in the displacement of residents, and also leads to massive environmental damage and greatly impacts the natural world at a time when the planet faces an environmental crisis. The Winter Olympics, in particular, are held in mountainous areas and the construction of competition venues often necessitates the destruction of precious old-growth forests, severely affecting local flora and fauna, and ultimately claiming lives. For PyeongChang 2018, Mount Gariwang’s protected virgin forest was destroyed in the name of building the alpine skiing venue. Due to the construction of new hotel facilities, local residents were also evicted. Once destroyed, nature won’t come back, nor does the displaced community return.
We opposed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games because of the immense damage that the Olympics bring as a mega-event driven by nationalism, plutocracy, eugenics, colonialism, and patriarchy. A mere six months after the Tokyo Olympics closed, the Beijing Winter Olympics are set to open in February 2022. The Chinese government’s violations of human rights have come under the spotlight due to the upcoming Games, with the United States announcing a diplomatic boycott, which was subsequently joined by Australia, Canada, and Britain. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that he wishes to decide Japan’s response “from the standpoint of national interests.” The IOC president, Thomas Bach, responded to the Western nations’ boycott with the claim that “the IOC has always been concerned with the participation of the athletes in the Olympic Games.” The IOC only cares as long as the Olympics are able to take place, while the United States and the other nations boycotting the Games diplomatically are nonetheless still sending their athletes to take part. In other words, they are not boycotting the Olympic interests. This attitude driven by the concerns of nations and sponsors, not athletes, is the same in China, which is holding the Games in spite of its property bubble crash. The nations are one and the same, all motivated by celebration capitalism. The bubble that began with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics is coming to an end with the 2022 Winter Olympics. We have had enough of celebration capitalism being forced upon the people in this way. No Olympics anywhere! We oppose both the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics and the proposed Sapporo Winter Olympics.
An opposition movement has started in Barcelona and the Pyrenees, which is another possible candidate for hosting the 2030 Olympics. Brisbane was already decided as the host city for the 2032 Summer Olympics at the IOC Session held right before the start of the Tokyo Olympics. Fewer and fewer cities are putting themselves forward to host the Games, and more and more cities are withdrawing bids in the face of opposition at local referendums, leaving the IOC frustrated that no one wants the Olympics anymore. As a survival strategy, it changed the bidding rules to enable backroom dealings and allow candidate cities to be nominated and decided more easily. It is rumored that the 2030 host city will also be decided in this way, perhaps even in early 2022. Once the host city is announced, it is very difficult to overturn that decision. What we need to do is get the bid consigned to oblivion when it is still at the planning stage. Various cities have previously withdrawn Olympic bids due to residents’ opposition and referendum results, including Calgary, Boston, Hamburg, Rome, and Budapest. We can still do it. Let’s join together and tell the Sapporo municipal government and the Japanese national government a resounding “No!”
We make the following demands:
1. For the Sapporo municipal government to withdraw its bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics
2. For the Japanese national government to cease promoting Olympic bids
December 11, 2021
Civil Alliance Against the Olympics in Hokkaido
Protect the Constitution Network Hokkaido
Workers and Citizens Against Constitutional Change (Hokkaido)
Anti-Olympics People’s Network (Nagano)
Matsumoto Group Against the Olympics
Hangorin no Kai No Olympics 2020
No 2020 Olympics Disaster OkotowaLink
Participants in “Teach In / Speak Out: Passing Down the Olympic Disaster”
We call upon activists and groups around the world to co-sign our appeal.
No 2020 Olympics Disaster OkotowaLink