Tokyo Olympics: Taxes spent but no attendance unless athletes or privileged

Tokyo Olympics: Taxes spent but no attendance unless athletes or privileged

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Japan and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) have spent vast sums on holding the Olympics and Paralympics. Both entities did this despite the full knowledge of the international coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis and the slow vaccination program that gave little solace to the people of Japan. Therefore, with ordinary people being prevented from going to venues in Tokyo and other neighboring prefectures, it seems strange to risk the spread of new coronavirus variants for an event that people can’t attend.

Soon the death toll from coronavirus in Japan will reach 15,000. Hence, while this is low when compared to Europe, North America, South America, and other parts of the world hit hard – it is still high compared with other nations in East Asia and the Mekong Delta. Also, the majority of coronavirus deaths in Japan have happened this year.

The central government and TMG have spent vast sums on the Olympics despite coronavirus convulsions concerning increasing poverty, rising female suicide, and other ills. Thus money, time, and energy that should have focused on the domestic coronavirus crisis were wasted on an event that will mainly be attended by athletes and privileged individuals connected to business, politicians, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and so forth. Therefore, it seems strange that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga didn’t stand up to the IOC when it became apparent that the coronavirus crisis in Japan would continue throughout the year.

Legal ambiguities between the central government of Japan, TMG, sponsors, and the IOC shouldn’t override the implications of the coronavirus pandemic concerning health and economics. Hence, for Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, and the IOC not to have contemplated the postponement – or cancellation – of the Olympics during a more severe period of the coronavirus pandemic is disturbing.

The central government, TMG, and the IOC are collectively allowing an Olympics to take place where only athletes and privileged individuals can partake. Also, despite the IOC focusing on the economic angle above all else, Japan placated this by showing weakness under Suga.

Some venues outside of Tokyo and neighboring prefectures will allow spectators. This will also increase confusion and resentment because the government seems incapable of making a full decision.

The holding of the Olympics was already unpopular before domestic spectators were banned. Now, the event is even more of a shallow shell than before. Therefore, it is hoped that viewing figures will be down because of the capitalist IOC angle.

It is noticeable that international athletes – like the IOC – don’t seem to view ordinary people in Japan with much conviction. Thus privileged individuals are holding an event despite the ongoing state of emergency in Tokyo. So much for brotherhood and sisterhood!

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