Urgent Statement: Withdraw GPS and other forms of surveillance by IOC/JOC in Tokyo Olympics

Olympic Disaster Warning Liaison Group agrees with the following statement.

Urgent Statement: Withdraw GPS and other forms of surveillance by IOC/JOC in Tokyo Olympics

List of Supporting Organizations

At a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board on April 9, Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, stated clearly that if the Olympic and Paralympic Games are held, media representatives will be designated places to stay and monitored by GPS and other means. Toshiro Muto, Secretary-General of Japan, said that the restrictions and surveillance would be applied “We’re not going to be tracking every single movement” and that the surveillance would be applied to “all” people traveling from abroad.

We oppose the use of GPS and other means to monitor or restrict behavior for any reason. We call for the withdrawal of the GPS surveillance measures.

Critical Media Excluded by 14 Days of Surveillance

This surveillance will last for 14 days. We are deeply suspicious of why the Organizing Committee took the action of behavioral surveillance when there are other effective means that do not infringe on freedom of the press. To reduce the risk of infection, prior vaccination and thorough PCR testing are enough. We don’t see the need for behavioral surveillance.Moreover, this kind of behavioral surveillance is forced only on the foreign media. There is no GPS monitoring of domestic media personnel, and neither vaccination nor PCR testing is being thoroughly conducted.  This is clearly a biased response to the media.

Much of the critical coverage, including the claims of the cancellation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has come from foreign media. Most of the active coverage of the anti-Olympic movement has also come from foreign media. It will be difficult for foreign media to cover the opposition movement if they are monitored by GPS and only allowed to cover places where they have registered in advance. Our right of access to the media will also be greatly restricted. This is a clear violation of freedom of the press.

Everyone is a journalist and a media outlet.

At this year’s Pulitzer Prize, a citizen who is not a professional journalist won a special award for the first time. In the age of the Internet, all of us have become media outlets. According to the rules of the organizing committee, freelance journalists, bloggers who use the Internet as their base of transmission, and media of social and civic movements are not allowed to stay at the homes of their friends and acquaintances, and if restrictions on their activities are implemented for 14 days, they will literally be unable to cover the event properly. They may even have to give up their visit to Japan itself. It is the critical coverage of the Olympics by these people that has supported the foundation of press freedom. It is obvious that they will be the first to be subjected to this surveillance.  Furthermore, Article 21 of the Constitution states; “Freedom of speech, publication and all other forms of expression shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall not be practiced. The secrecy of communications shall not be violated.”

GPS as privacy information

GPS is privacy information. The actual status of its management and sharing is unclear.
In addition, the Organizing Committee obtains GPS and other location information in a form that can identify the individual. GPS information that can identify a person is privacy information. Location information is also information closely related to freedom of the press, and requires the consent of the individual.  In this case, it is not “consent”.This is a clear form of coercion, because the interview cannot be conducted unless this condition is accepted. Moreover, it is not at all clear how the acquired location information will be managed. It is also not clear what technical measures will be taken to block the use of the information for other purposes, such as the technical risk of sharing it with investigative and intelligence agencies. We should not forget that there are the countries that the Japanese government treats as de facto enemy states.

There is a risk that this will become a precedent.

In the future, even in the post-Corona era, such monitoring and regulation of foreign media may continue in various forms, and there is a possibility that it will spread to domestic media as well. In light of the fact that not only the traditional mass media but also a variety of citizen media have emerged, the monitoring of the media is also a monitoring of each and every one of us who use the Internet to transmit information.  In this sense, surveillance by GPS is absolutely unacceptable.

There are other concerns about media surveillance.

A media center will be set up for the Olympics.The media, which will be under surveillance for their activities, will have to use a limited number of places, such as the media center and pre-designated accommodation facilities, as places to receive and transmit information. The government is stepping up surveillance of communications under the pretext of the threat of cyber-terrorism at the Olympics. It has not been confirmed that the secrecy of communications from these locations is technically guaranteed. We have to consider that there is a possibility that communications from media centers and lodgings may well come under surveillance. Freedom of movement of the media is an essential condition to avoid such surveillance and to ensure the secrecy of communications.

The Olympics has become an event for the socialization of surveillance. Cancellation is the best option.

Finally, looking at the overall trends of the Organizing Committee, the national government, local governments, and industry surrounding the Olympics, it has become a testing ground for various surveillance technologies, such as the introduction of face recognition surveillance cameras, the construction of a mass surveillance infrastructure using big data and AI, as well as surveillance using GPS and other technologies.  In consideration of these factors, we have to question the very concept of holding the Olympics. Finally, we would like to emphasize that the best option is to cancel the Olympics and stop the development and introduction of all surveillance technologies.

June 13, 2021
Citizens Liaison Committee Against Wiretapping Law

We are inviting organizations to support this statement. Please send an email to the following address with the name of your organization. The list of supporting organizations will be announced later.


The Citizens Liaison Committee Against Wiretapping Law was born out of the movement against the Interception of Communications Act, which was passed in 2000. For the past 20 years, the group has been campaigning against the development of a surveillance society. In March this year, the group issued a statement against the digital surveillance bill. The website is as follows