Why hosting the 2020 Olympics would hurt Japan

The Feb. 28 Economist article (below), “Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup is bad for a city’s health,” explains who is really paying for the new infrastructure built to host the games (taxpayers!) and who is really making the majority of the profit – I’ll give you one guess, that’s right, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and FIFA. Seeing the precedent of economic disadvantage for both the London and Sochi Olympics and Brazil’s World Cup, Tokyo would be making a huge mistake in hosting the 2020 Olympics.

The article states, “But over the past few decades, the IOC, in particular, has appropriated an every-greater share of the proceeds for itself: the most recent public data reveal that it now pockets more than 70% of Olympic television revenue, compared with less than 4% between 1960 and 1980… And there is little evidence to support the projections that hosting will bring a surge in tourism: Beijing and London both attracted fewer visitors during their summer Olympics in 2008 and 2012 respectively than they had int he same period a year earlier.

The international organizations argue, in return, that they also contribute to the costs of staging the contests: in particular, FIFA funds the entire World Cup operating budget. However, “operating” costs account for only a small portion of the price of hosting tournaments. The lion’s share is spent on construction, both on stadiums and on transport capacity to shuttle people between events. Those expenditures are borne entirely by the host. Although there is no formal requirement that such venues be new, the IOC and FIFA have consistently selected cities with the most ambitious plans for custom-built facilities. It is the need to build so much, so fast that leads to taxpayer-funded cost overruns that would be comic were they not so tragic, running from a low of four times the original estimate up to ten times or more.”

Rather than digging itself into deeper debt by spending billions of dollars on sports facilities, Tokyo must funnel maximum resources into the Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning efforts and compensation for the ten of thousands of displaced Fukushima refugees. I use the word “efforts” because no one truly knows how to deal with the situation — three reactors with spent melted fuel that cannot be located due to extreme radiation levels; about 1,300 storage tanks full of contaminated water, up to 333 of which are leaking; the risk of sinking foundation due to underground water, which also becomes contaminated; and 300 tons of radioactive water flowing in the Pacific Ocean daily since March 2011. The list goes on. Japan seems to have its hands full with an estimated several trillion dollar cleanup process and recovery that will take a minimum of 40 years.

Rather than looking out for the safety of its citizens, the Japanese government has literally done the opposite by increasing the annual radiation limit from 1 mSv to 20 mSv and by threatening evacuees to move back to contaminated areas where evacuation orders have been lifted. They are given a set number of months to return home until they can no longer receive compensation. I’m talking about mothers who fear radiation exposure for their families every day and children who can’t even play outside for more than a short period of time before they’ve reached their daily radiation capacity.

The Japanese government has shamed and dishonored its country by denying its citizens their basic needs for survival and happiness and the freedom to raise their families in a clean environment. Instead, its marriage with utilities and energy companies has pushed nuclear energy to the forefront of Japan’s energy policy, a slap in the face to the survivors of the Fukushima triple meltdowns.

Tokyo must step down as host of the 2020 Olympics for the social and economic welfare of Japan.



One thought on “Why hosting the 2020 Olympics would hurt Japan

  1. The graph showing the IOC’s increasing “cut” of revenues is striking. One can no longer argue — if one ever could have argued previously — that hosting an Olympics is a net benefit for the host country. It is instead a huge charity event (“redistribution of wealth,” with all that’s implied by that phrase) for the benefit of the IOC, its executives and corporate sponsors.

    Japan is facing a massive public health crisis and a massive refugee crisis. Morally and economically, it is in the same position as a poor Third World country embroiled in a border war. Every dollar spent on this Olympic boondoggle is literally a dollar taken away from the innocent victims of the crisis in the north. Japan should not be hosting an Olympics any more than Ethiopia or Somalia should be hosting an Olympics. National pride be damned, cancel it!

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