The Fate of the Tokyo Summer Olympics

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Courtesy of Pexels (Cottonbro)

Arun Patel, Online Staff Writer

After an unprecedented year-long delay, the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to take place from Friday, July 23 to Sunday, August 8, 2021. The games were originally set for around the same time last year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were postponed. As the dates come closer, and COVID cases still surging, there have been concerns as to if they will be postponed again.

The Summer Olympic Games take place every 4 years with athletes from just over 200 nations competing in various sports such as gymnastics, track and field, swimming, and soccer. These games draw in thousands of viewers daily. Freshman Hutch Henderson stated, “My favorite event is ping pong (Table Tennis), because it is an intense and fast-paced sport.” He also explained how he felt when they were postponed last year, “I was disappointed and frustrated that they took away my ping pong.” While many share his frustration, they understand why they had to be postponed: “I understand why they canceled it. It was not safe to hold massive sporting events amid a pandemic” Hutch added.  

While there is the situation surrounding if they can host the Olympics at all, there are other controversies that have plagued the Tokyo Olympics. One of them is surrounding the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. Yoshiro Mori, the former chair and the former prime minister was forced to resign in early February after sexist and derogatory remarks towards multiple women emerged. Taking his place is former Olympian, Seiko Hashimoto. She is a major leader in the movement for gender equality in Japan and one of the few female politicians in the nation. In one of her first interviews, she stated that she understands that there is “great public concern” surrounding the Olympics. While we are still unsure if the now 2021 Tokyo Olympics games will ever happen, there is one thing to be sure about: the Olympics are costly to host cities. 

The most recent summer Olympics were held in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city hoped that hosting the Olympics would clean up the city and boost the economy, but they fell short on money and instead of cleaning up the city, they “hid” the impoverished and “bad” parts. While the 2016 Olympics brought in money from tourism, the aftereffects were harsh. The former Olympic venues now sit abandoned and in ruins, the Deodoro Aquatics Center is now covered in bugs, dirt, and rodent feces. The iconic Maracanã soccer stadium has been vandalized and out of power after missing payments on electricity bills. While Rio hoped hosting the Olympics would modernize the city and boost the economy, all it has done has made it worse. The Rio Olympic organizing committee owes over $40 million to creditors, and to make things worse, athletes are sending back chipped, broken medals to Rio to get them fixed due to poor quality. A report done by Amnesty International states that “Unfortunately, the promised legacy of the Olympics of achieving a safe city for all people was not delivered, and instead a legacy of human rights violations endures.” As more people realize the true cost of hosting the Olympics, and cities start to drop their bids for future Olympics, the people of Japan are starting to question if they should just pull the plug on hosting the Olympics. Freshman Sam Elkin stated, “The Olympics are something I look forward to watching every year. It would be really disappointing to not get to watch it in the summer”.While we all want to cheer on our favorite countries and show some American pride, we may have to wait a bit longer to do so. 

 

Works cited

  • Drehs, Wayne, and Mariana Lajolo. “One Year after Rio: What’s Left behind after the Flame Goes Out.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 10 Aug. 2017, www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/20292414/the-reality-post-olympic-rio.
  • Maese, Rick. “Everything You Need to Know about the Tokyo Olympics.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 20 Feb. 2021, www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/02/20/tokyo-olympics-2021-guide/.
  • “New Tokyo Olympics Chief Acknowledges ‘Great Public Concern’ over Covid.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 18 Feb. 2021, www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/feb/18/tokyo-2020-japan-to-appoint-olympic-seiko-hashimoto-sexism-row.
  • Trendafilova, Sylvia, et al. Journal of Sustainability Education, 2017, www.susted.com/wordpress/content/sustainability-and-the-olympics-the-case-of-the-2016-rio-summer-games_2018_01/. 
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