Tokyo 2020, an Olympic Games marked by political interests

Tokyo 2020, an Olympic Games marked by political interests

Japan says it spent $ 15.4 billion organizing the fair, although government audits indicate it would have invested twice as much

TOKYO – Over and over again, year after year, Olympic leaders say that politics has nothing to do with Olympic Games. But how can politics be pushed aside when it comes to pulling off an event as complex as an Olympic joust in the midst of a fierce pandemic?

Take these factors into account:

  • The Japanese medical community is largely opposed to the event, and the government’s top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, said that “it is not normal” to hold a competition of this magnitude during a pandemic.

  • The medical journals The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine expressed concern. The first criticized the World Health Organization for not taking a firm stance and the second said that the decision of the International Olympic Committee playing the games “is not based on the best scientific evidence.”

  • Japan’s second-best-selling newspaper, Asahi Shumbun, asked for the cancellation of the games. The same did other regional newspapers.

The games, however, go on. The opening ceremony will take place on Friday. How is this explained?

The main reason is the “contract with the host city”, for which the COI he is the only one who has the authority to cancel the competition. If Japan does, it should compensate the COI. And there are billions of dollars at stake. Japan says it spent $ 15.4 billion organizing the fair, although government audits indicate it would have invested twice as much.

Some estimates indicate that canceling the games would cost the COI up to $ 4 billion in lost revenue. Broadcasting rights and advertising account for 91 percent of the company’s revenue. COI. And the US network NBCUniversal is responsible for 40 percent of that revenue.

The Associated Press sought the perspective of figures inside and outside Japan regarding the role of politics in this fair.

KOICHI NAKANO, professor of political science at the University of Sofia:

“He’s like a player who has lost too much,” said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sofia University in Tokyo. “Exiting now would only confirm the enormous losses, and moving forward offers hope of recovering some of what was lost. Just holding the fair could give the government the chance to say it was a success and saturate the media with triumphant expressions. and national pride to help him change people’s minds. “

MARK CONRAD, a lawyer from the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University.

“The IOC is a very powerful brand. The fact that athletes from all over the world come together to compete in peace is very powerful. Who is opposed to a competition like this in peace? There are sponsors willing to pay a lot of money, so that the IOC can sign very favorable contracts, and it certainly did in this case. “

HELEN JEFFERSON LENSKYI, sociologist and author of “The Olympic Games: A Critical Approach”:

“The contract with the host city leaves all power in the hands of the IOC. The Olympic event has had more than 120 years to win the hearts of people around the world and it has done so with great success. In the age of the internet Its public relations machinery controls the message and protects its image 24 hours a day, seven days a week.The IOC, on the other hand, is beyond the reach of supervisory bodies, including the governments of host countries. It can violate human rights law with immunity, including the right of athletes to access national courts. “

AKI TONAMI, Professor of Political Science at the University of Tsukuba:

“Based on what I hear, the government people must have been ordered to make the games happen and that is the only thing that matters to them right now, for better or for worse. Their hope is to play the games with the minors. Possible stumbling blocks. Politicians are aware of the risks they are taking, but they hope that when the games start, people will forget how this came to be. “

JOHN HORNE, sociologist at Waseda University, co-authored with Garry Whannel of “Understanding the Olympics”:

“The IOC is an elitist club that receives the support of other elites and people – and countries – who aspire to join the elite. From a sporting perspective, the IOC is the custodian of exclusive medals to which athletes of many specialties aspire , is the main promoter of the mythology about the healing power of sport and is the organization that most of the international sports federations depend on for their funding. “

GILL STEEL, Professor of Political Science at Doshisha University:

“On the political level, the opposition (to the games) is very weak and the government can do practically whatever it wants. Although disastrous games could damage the credibility of the ruling party, it benefits from the doubts that the public has respect to the ability of the opposition to govern. The government hopes that, when the fair begins, public opinion will change and a patriotic fervor will prevail. “

ROBERT WHITING, author of several books on Japan:

“It feels like no one is in charge of this. There are all these entities: the Tokyo organizing committee, the Japanese Olympic Committee, the prime minister’s office, the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, the Japanese Sports Agency, the Ministry. of Foreign Relations, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology … The parliament asks (Prime Minister Yoshihide) Suga to cancel the games, and he responds that it is not his responsibility. No one wants to look bad. “

DAVID LEHENY, professor of political science at Waseda University:

“Much of the opposition is empty and moody. There will be a lot of people interested in putting on a good show, so I suspect they will have a headwind if there is no significant increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths or related tragedies. the heat among athletes “.

RYU HOMMA, writer and former advertising executive:

“If infections increase and this is a catastrophe, it will not be the responsibility of the IOC. It will be the Japanese government that pays the consequences.”

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