Archive for the ‘Shasetsu – Op/Ed’ Category

Olympic Decision Tomorrow: Say No to Tokyo

October 1, 2009

The day has come. Tomorrow, the International Olympic committee will meet in Copenhagen to decide which of the four finalist cities – Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, or Tokyo – will get the dubious honor of hosting the Games of the XXXI Summer Olympiad, better known as the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Obviously, each candidate city has spent years and millions of dollars already in an attempt to snag the Games, in the process making more and more promises that are almost certainly unachievable. (Tokyo budgeted $48 million for bidding alone, with $27 million of that explicitly coming from the metropolitan government.)

In this respect, the competition to get the Olympics is quite a bit like a political campaign: even if one of the candidates wanted to be up front about it and make a case, the process drags everyone involved down into the muck of disingenuous myopia. Once the bids begin, candidates go for the gold no matter what the costs – appealing in a sprinter, less so in a government. After all, the whole point of hosting the Olympics is to benefit the host city and environs in one way or another, right?

On Friday, the contenders are pulling out all the stops. In addition to the wining, dining, and wooing of the IOC that has already taken place, big names will be on hand to pitch for their respective cities. For Chicago, President Obama announced last week that he would join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen to make the case, even as protests heat up in the Chicago itself and fewer and fewer respondents to polls say they really want to see the Olympics in their town. For our own Tokyo, new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will make the case in what the media here have been entertainingly, but ridiculously calling “Hatoyama vs. Obama.”

First, let’s set aside some of the hogwash about what the Olympics actually represents. (more…)