LANE ONE: Olympics enemies still angry, but continue to lose ground as reception and sporting interest continue to soar



The situation in Tokyo last April was difficult for Olympic organizers, amid rising rates of coronavirus infection and a slow response from the government. A national Kyodo News poll showed that 70% or more preferred the Games to be postponed or canceled again.

The the Wall Street newspaper posted a story titled “The Tokyo anti-Olympic movement calls for: Why weren’t the games canceled?“And included:

“Anti-Olympic activist Misako Ichimura we can expect it to be a carrier. But just like the organizers of the Games, she feels compelled to deliver.

“’Activists in Paris opposed to the next Summer Olympics have asked why we haven’t already been able to stop the Games given the situation here,” she said. “

Ichimura had been protesting the Tokyo Games since their award in 2013. And she received help in early May as a quadruple candidate for governor of Tokyo. Kenji utsunomiya started a petition titled “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives. “

The petition gathered more than 200,000 signatories in its first 50 hours online, but quickly faded away afterwards. By the end of the Tokyo Games last month, it had 459,303 signatures and was forgotten in a metropolitan area of ​​37.3 million.

And the Tokyo Olympics were successful, but without spectators, just like the Paralympics. TV ratings showed that over 90% of the Japanese audience watched at least part of the Games and the event dominated TV viewing around the world.

Bad news for Ichimura and anti-Games protesters in Tokyo. There will be another cry of anger when the the final costs of the Games are announced, perhaps in December but more likely in 2022.

There is already a public outcry over Beijing’s selection for the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, given China’s gruesome human rights record, but calls for a boycott by the National teams were muted given the experience of the 1976-80-84 Games. who has seen so many athletes miss their chance to participate. A diplomatic boycott is more likely, but since the event takes place in an authoritarian country, there is no doubt that it will unfold as planned.

The next stop will be Paris for 2024, Milan Cortina for the 2026 Winter Games, Los Angeles for 2028 and Brisbane for 2032. The host of the 2030 Winter Games has not yet been determined, but there are very good options from previous hosts Sapporo (1972). : Japan) and Vancouver (2010: Canada) and possibly even Salt Lake City, Utah, which hosted in 2002. Ukraine has also expressed interest in 2030 and there is a confused candidacy coming perhaps from there. ‘Spain – using Barcelona for ice events and holding snow events in the Pyrenees – but there is a political showdown going on there and a referendum is due, possibly in 2022.

It is quite astonishing.

The Olympic Movement was supposed to die, after IOC members voted 44-40 for Beijing against Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2015. Both candidates were dismal choices after the withdrawal from Oslo (NOR) and possible candidatures from Krakow ( POL), Lviv (UKR) and Stockholm (SWE) exploded for lack of political support. Defeats in the referendums killed possible offers from Munich (GER) and St. Moritz and Davos (SUI).

And after the difficult and underfunded Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, the Olympic obituary was being written.

But in the same year, the race for the 2024 Olympic Games ignited with serious bids from world-class cities such as Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome, leading to the award of the 2024 Games to Paris and 2028 to LA in 2017 Even Stockholm returned to the forefront for the 2026 Winter Games, but lost to the Italian candidacy of Milan + Cortina d’Ampezzo.

And when the IOC’s candidacy process shifted from an outright vote – with its long and troubled history of corruption and favors – to a more pragmatic, less costly direct selection process, screams were heard from several countries. when Brisbane was targeted for 2032, then confirmed last summer … from potential bidders who weren’t successful (and weren’t fortunate enough to waste millions on bids that wouldn’t have resulted in nothing).

Now offers from Germany, Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and more are all in the works for 2036 and later. . The Olympic Movement seems to be alive and well.

None of this impresses the anti-Olympics, who criticize all aspects of the Games as the vile destroyer of cities, the environment and local, regional and national finances. Most of the complaints do not concern the IOC itself or the competitions, but the way the host cities or regions organize the Games.

These local discussions are very appropriate. How governments spend money and allocate resources are hot issues in democracies and dictatorships alike. But with the IOC’s reforms, including the public display of its host city contracts, detailing what it expects and what it will deliver – US $ 1.8 billion in cash and services for 2028, for example – the financial conditions are much clearer. And the positions of anti-Games protesters, for example in Paris, are often not widely shared: one group has tried – unsuccessfully – to stop construction of new housing in an area north of Paris that is in desperate need of it. The housing will initially be used for news media at the 2024 Games, then converted for local use thereafter.

Another sign of the vitality of the Olympic Games is the scramble to be part of it by sports around the world. There is no way that France Stone coubertin, the driving force behind the creation of the modern Games, could have foreseen skateboarding, climbing or surfing as Olympic sports in Tokyo, or break dancing in Paris.

And for Los Angeles, those sports are begging to be back, just like cricket, flying disc – originating in Southern California – karate, mixed martial arts, sambo, parkour and many more.

There continue to be the occasional, silly stories that quote the same enemies of the Olympics who say the Games are doomed, are bad business for host cities, and should be eliminated. The growing interest in hosting the Games today shows that critics remain in their private fantasy; perhaps they should be subjected to a doping control before being cited?

In the meantime, the IOC has said it has already recorded $ 4.1 billion in revenue for the quadrennium 2029-2032 and has called on Candidate Cities and Organizing Committees not to build facilities when the existing solutions are available. He lost that argument on the Cortina sliding track (it will be renovated as part of a regional family fun center), and noted that a project to renovate the area around Brisbane cricket ground is underway. a civic project that is not necessary (or requested or required) for the 2032 Games.

Even the Tokyo protester Ichimura acknowledged in the Newspaper article from last April that even though the Tokyo Games had been vaporized, “it would not be a decisive victory for the anti-Olympic movement.

“The chances of a cancellation have increased, but even if these Olympics are canceled due to the pandemic, there will still be Beijing, Paris and others in the future. “

Yes, there will be. Get used to it.

Rich Perelman

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