There are several criminal sports organizations, FIFA being one and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) running second or third. There must be something about being around too long that gradually erodes the best of intentions, letting greed and ego seep in around the edges of management, whether it be European football (soccer), Major League Baseball, auto racing or, in this case, the Summer Olympics.
No one wants the Tokyo Olympics to happen
Nobody that is except the monied interests. The Japanese public, by an 80% majority, are against bringing 70-80,000 athletes, officials, journalists and support staff into a nation that’s under siege with Covid-19. They want it cancelled or deferred to a later date.
According to a May 21st Guardian UK article, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee has said the Tokyo 2020 Games can go ahead even if the host city is under a state of emergency because of the coronavirus.
That’s a pretty brave statement to make in someone else’s country, when you expect to be an admired guest.
“All the measures we are undertaking will ensure a safe Games regardless of whether there is a state of emergency or not,” John Coates, an IOC vice-president who is in charge of preparations, told reporters after a virtual meeting with organizers on Friday.
“Provided that we can protect the Japanese public, the most important thing is giving athletes a chance to compete.”
Sorry John, but that’s a crock of shit. The most important thing is what the most important thing has always been—recovering some of the outrageous amounts of dough Tokyo wasted and insuring that various TV, other media and sponsor income is maximized.
It’s not been about sport ever since ancient Greece—it’s about money
Tokyo has over $26 billion in sunk costs so far and no Jeff Bezos standing by to pick up the tab. Not only that but Tokyo, like all cities that have been dumb enough to host either summer or winter games, is stuck with facilities they have no possible use for. Japan’s a wealthy nation, but $26 billion is a pretty sharp stick in its economic eye.
The IOC was all set to generate a record $4.5 billion from Tokyo 2020 TV rights. That goes to the IOC, so Tokyo is left with the promise of tourists and a share of ticket prices. Good luck with that. Tourists are exactly what Japan is trying to avoid during the pandemic. America is trying to help, in its own weird way:
On May 25th the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) said “travelers should avoid all travel” to the country, warning that in the “current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading” Covid variants.
Japanese doctors and medical workers have called for the Games to be cancelled to relieve pressure on its overwhelmed health services. While most athletes are expected to be fully vaccinated by the time the Games open in two months’ time, only 4.1% of Japan’s population has received at least one jab – the lowest rate of any advanced economy – and only 30% of medical workers in Tokyo are fully protected.
No matter how this ends, there is a better way
The better way has been known ever since the Olympics left Greece. Greece hosted the modern Summer Olympic Games on two occasions, the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896 and again in 2004. In the mean time—in between time—the event has been kicked around from America to Hitler’s Germany and countless other nations. All Olympic hosts have lost money and stretched their resources to the breaking point. The single-purpose facilities left behind must be torn down at additional cost.
The why of that is, once again, money. As with all things economic, there are those who take and those who are taken, those who serve and those who eat.
A recent example is the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, which generated $3.6 billion and spent more than $40 billion for the pride of hosting. By any standard, that’s a horrific negative return on investment, but of course the IOC never pays the bill. Host nations pay the bill and that means the same people who can’t afford a ticket are stuck with paying off the cost.
Heads I win, tails you lose
Lots and lots of money changes hands as facilities are needlessly replicated every four years. Any sane investigation would decide in favor of Greece as a permanent venue for the summer games and some appropriately snowy nation to host the winter event.
The nearly 200 nations that participate would all kick in a percentage of the initial development costs, as well as upkeep and improvement. Greece invented the games. Athens would make a lovely and non-political permanent home.
And god bless ‘em, the Greeks could use the money.
Image Credit: japantimes.co.jp