The Tokyo Olympics Seem Destined for Doom

The Tokyo Olympics Seem Destined for Doom
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We've known for a long time now that the Tokyo Olympics are in some trouble. First, of course, we saw the delay of the Summer Games due to the pandemic. But for almost the entire time since we learned of the postponement, a few red flags have popped up. On the sports side, there's the potential for Simone Biles to not receive recognition for performing gymnastics's most legendary feat, after judges gave her a low score for attempting the Yurchenko double pike at the U.S. Classic. And in April, the International Olympic Committee upheld Rule 50, which means that athletes will likely face discipline if they protest at the Games.

This is all in addition to mounting local opposition to the event, which will begin in Tokyo, Japan, on July 23. If there was any doubt that the host country's citizens aren't too excited to host the world's greatest athletes during a pandemic (even if foreign spectators won't be allowed to visit), a survey conducted from May 15 to May 16 showed that a staggering 83 percent of Japanese respondents said they wanted the Games to be either cancelled or postponed again. Now, according to NHK, 10,000 of the 80,000 volunteers have quit the Tokyo Olympics—giving the event yet another blow, with less than two months left until the Games start.

That many volunteers dropping out of work for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games isn't a total surprise. They started resigning when the Tokyo Olympics organizing chief, Yoshiro Mori, made comments showing disdain for women. He has since resigned, admitting that his comments were inappropriate—yet insisting that his remarks weren't meant to disrespect women. Aside from Mori's controversy, Japan's slow vaccine rollout makes it likely that volunteers are leaving, too, because of growing health concerns. Corporate leaders in the country are warning citizens about potential danger of hosting the Games, like Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, who said it'd be a "suicide mission" if Tokyo hosted the event. Japanese health adviser Shigero Omi recently warned lawmakers that "It is not normal to host the Games in the current situation."

"It is only when there is a clear reason to host the Games that the public will get on board," he said. "It is very important for those involved in the Olympics to clarify their vision and the reason for hosting the Games."

Add that to years of reports that working conditions for the Tokyo Olympics had construction workers living in a "culture of fear," being overworked to the point where one man died by suicide? Thing aren't looking good for July. Now, we'll see if volunteers continue to quit—and if so many leave due to continued health anxieties that Tokyo will have to consider postponing the Games again. At least we can thank our lucky stars that Florida won't step in to host the Olympics at the last second. We think.

Photo credit: Mike Kim
Photo credit: Mike Kim

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