By Ryoji Shimada
Have you been to Tokyo before? What do you think of the cityscape of Tokyo? Don't you think it's beautifully maintained? Actually, the Olympics being held in Tokyo (as of July 28) has something to do with this. As was the case with the previous Olympics held in Tokyo in 1964, the social infrastructure was improved in time for the Olympics. New roads were built or repaired, steps were made barrier-free, elevators were installed, and so on. As you may have noticed if you have ridden the Tokyo subway, there are also signs in English and other foreign languages.
In addition, each station is labeled not only with the name of the station, but also with letters and numbers to make it easier for those who do not understand Japanese station names to use the subway. This was also thanks to the Olympics held last year in Tokyo. However, many Japanese people opposed the holding of the Olympics last year. Why is that?
Cons about hosting the Olympics
There are many reasons, such as the spread of the coronavirus, but one reason is the cost of hosting the Olympics. The direct cost is 1.6 trillion yen (about 16 billion US dollar), and the related costs are about 1 trillion yen (about 1 billion US dollars). Even if you include the revenue from tickets, sponsorship, and subsidies from the IOC, the total revenue is only 600 billion yen (about 600 million US dollar), which means a huge deficit overall. Moreover, this time the Olympics is held without any spectators, so the ticket revenue of 90 billion yen (US$ 90 million) was lost. In addition, the annual maintenance cost of the facilities built for the Olympics adds up to 2.1 billion yen (US$ 20 million) for the three facilities alone in Tokyo. Furthermore the cost of security for the Olympics, which is expected to run into the hundreds of billions of yen (around several billions of US dollars), has not been accounted for. Originally, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was touted as the most compact event. Most of the venues were to be located within an eight-kilometer radius of the athletes' village, and the cost was to be around 700 billion yen (US$ 7 billion). However, once the bid for the Olympics was approved, the costs started to balloon.
It is said that the Athens Olympics in 2004 worsened Greece's financial situation and caused its financial collapse in 2009, and the actual total cost of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is said to exceed 4 trillion yen (US$ 40 billion). What is the point of spending such a huge amount of money to hold the Olympics?
In addition, the negative aspects of the Olympics have been pointed out, such as rising land prices in the host city, making it more difficult for ordinary people to live there, and making it a target for terrorists. Do you know what the average price of an apartment is in the urban area of Tokyo? It is about 600,000 US dollars. It may not be that high, but it is the highest price ever in Tokyo. One of the reasons is foreign investment, which is also related to the Olympics.
Listed Cons about the Olympics
- It will cost a fortune.
- Land prices will rise
- Become a target of terrorism
Pros about hosting the Olympics
However, there are also many positive aspects. Hosting the Olympic Games brings various benefits to the host country. Firstly, The Olympics is the biggest sports event in the world and entertains and excites people all over the world. It is thrilling to watch the moment when athletes win competitions after training hard. Secondly hosting the Olympics can boost the domestic economy through increased tourism and investment in infrastructure. Thirdly, it will promote sports among people of all generations. In addition, hosting the Olympics will raise the status of the host country in the global community. However, Japan has already established a high position in the international community as the third largest economy in the world.
Listed Pros about the Olympics
- It's exciting to watch top athletes play sports.
- Infrastructure will be improved and the economy will be stimulated.
- It will promote sports.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree that your country should host the Olympics? The Olympics will be held in Paris in 2024 and in Los Angeles in 2028.
I am personally in favor of hosting the Olympics, but it does cost money, and there needs to be more transparent reporting of income and expenses. I also think that it is possible to hold the Games without spending much money. Also, even if there is a deficit, I uphold the significance of the Olympics as stated in the Olympic Charter: "To contribute to the building of a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport.” In addition, through the pre-Olympic training camps for athletes from various countries, cultural exchanges across national borders will flourish in the host regions, volunteer activities will become more active, and watching top athletes compete live will give strength and hope to the many young people who will carry the future.
The Paralympics might be more meaningful
On September 4, 2021, the Paralympic Games came to a close and all the competitions related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were completed. I have the impression that the Paralympic Games went off without a hitch under the slogan, "Without the success of the Paralympic Games, there will be no success of the Olympic Games." I was particularly impressed with the Paralympics in the following aspects.
- The athletes are connected to each other not only by the fact that they play the same sport, but also by the fact that they have the same disability.
- There were many warm scenes of athletes praising each other after the games.
- People with disabilities have their own dramas in the past (e.g., they lost their legs in an accident), and it was very moving.
- Seeing them doing their best in spite of their disabilities is even more moving.
Many people are forced to live depressed lives in the midst of a pandemic, and seeing their activities can give them courage, which may be a good thing that only the Paralympics can do.
One of my friends took two weeks off from his job to volunteer for the Olympics. He said, “I would like to help in any way I can, since Tokyo hosts this huge international event.” I think it is wonderful that the Olympics can inspire such a beautiful volunteer spirit.
However, on the other hand, I was opposed to holding the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With the spread of the coronavirus, many people were against holding the Olympics. In addition, the lack of spectators due to infection control measures resulted in the loss of opportunities to watch the world's top athletes in person, limited international cultural events surrounding the athletes around Japan, and limited interaction between athletes themselves. And at last moment, 10,000 volunteer staff turned down the opportunity to participate. There are many reasons for this, but there is no doubt that the spread of the coronavirus has had an impact on their resignation.
It is pure fun to watch the world's top athletes gather in one place and compete against each other. When my country's athletes win medals, it makes me happy as a citizen from the same country and gives me energy. I think the Olympics is a meaningful opportunity for sports. However, in spite of the huge amount of money spent, I don't feel that there are many cultural and educational benefits to be gained through sports this time. In the Olympic Charter, there is a sentence as follows.
Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
As described in this charter, I believe that there are other reasons for holding the Olympics other than the sports, and that the support of a large number of people in the host country should be a prerequisite for holding the Olympics. But this time there was very little support. So I was against the last year’s Olympics.