Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo.
On September 7, 2013, Japan was filled with joy when Tokyo was elected to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the IOC, the International Olympic Committee’s session held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
At that time, the Olympics was a blessing. No one expected the turn of events to follow.
The Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to be held in July and August of 2020, was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 crisis. The clock is ticking, and no one believes that the Olympics can be held safely and on the intended scale this July and August.
It is already clear for all of us that the Tokyo Olympics would be very nominal one under tight restrictions, if it can be held for the first place. Many Japanese would like to postpone it again or rather cancel it all at once.
Actually, the host city has no right to decide to cancel or postpone the Tokyo Olympics.
The IOC has.
All the prerogatives of vital decisions of the Olympics are in the hand of the IOC, a private association.
According to the contract presented by IOC to hosting cities, most of the benefits, such as the exorbitant broadcasting rights fees, will go exclusively to the IOC and all the responsibilities are on the host city.
Even under the COVID-19 crisis, precious medical resources must be allocated to the IOC officials, players, and staffs preferentially. If Olympic games are cancelled by the host city, huge amount of compensations will be charged to the city which cannot help but being paid from the coffer of the city or the state and then, in turn, paid by the Japanese citizens by tax.
Nowadays, Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Japan for his insensitive statements on forcing the Olympics this summer while passing all the responsibility on to Japan.
Complicating matters is the fact that this postponed Olympics coincides with Japan’s general elections. The 4 year-term of the Japanese Diet (the House of Representatives) will end on October 21, 2021 and the constitution requires that a general election must be held by this date.
For Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, holding an election right after postponing or cancelling the Olympics could be disastrous, likely to be punished by the disappointed voters. It is suspected to be the cause behind the government’s insistence to keep the present schedule of holding Olympic games in July-August this year which will pose the huge public health concern raising the risk of the renewed outbreaks of the COVID-19.
No one expected the Olympics becomes such a curse.