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  • Elle Airey

Counting the Real Costs of the Olympics




Despite all the protests, petitions to cancel the Olympics and surging COVID cases, the games are going ahead. Thanks to the mainstream Japanese media playing their part as the Japanese government’s propaganda machine by mainly showing positive news, the Japanese public are getting into the Olympic mood, at least on the surface.


If you are a foreigner in Japan, you would have noticed that there’s very little else on T.V. other than the Olympics and only news about Japanese athletes… As I’m a mixed-race (English and Japanese) who didn’t grow up in Japan, I’m not interested in watching news only about the Japanese athletes. I guess it doesn’t really matter as I’m not watching the Olympics at all as I can’t support an event that will most likely increase the spread of COVID and potentially kill more people.


I have voiced my opinion that the games should not go ahead and signed petitions calling for the games to be canceled. I was shocked at the number of people who have shouted at me and criticized me for holding this opinion and that I should think of the athletes who have trained all their lives and sacrificed so much to take part in the Olympics. Apparently, I should also remember that these athletes have all their hopes and dreams resting on the games and it would be so unfair to cancel it now…


The COVID numbers are surging during the Olympics and this will most likely extend the negative effect on the economy. This will inevitably hurt many small and medium size businesses and force some to close but speaking out against the Olympics is frowned upon. Former prime minister, Abe Shinzo has even stated that being against the Olympics is anti-Japanese… Calling out people or organizations that don’t agree with your opinion and labeling them as unpatriotic, seems to be a page from a certain former U.S. president.


Our company was founded just before the pandemic and has been seriously impacted as the tourism industry was one of our main targets. With no end to the pandemic in sight, we’ve looked at other options to keep afloat but it’s been a struggle. All the hotels, restaurants and other businesses that we were going to work with are also in the same boat and most are only just surviving, with a few that have already closed their doors for the last time. All these companies had to put any business with us on hold and so we lost almost all our expected revenue right at the start.


All these small and medium size business owners and employees had their own hopes and dreams when they started their companies. I still remember talking to my current staff in a café about how we can make the company successful and help the companies we work with. We were so excited about the future and couldn’t wait to start work. I know that many business owners and their staff were also excited to start their companies and are now devastated as they are suffering due to the pandemic. I also know many freelancers that are also feeling the effects.


After spending all my saving and taking out a personal loan, as well as a grant through the company to keep paying my staff, I’m still struggling to keep things going. I’m humbled by the understanding and support from my staff who have not complained about the low pay they have to put up with.


This is a familiar story with so many companies I talk to that have had to cut back pay, take out loans and even let staff go. Some businesses receive government funds to keep them running, but most companies say that the money is not enough to keep going for much longer. Other companies like ours are not eligible for any money as we don’t fit the criteria that the Japanese government has set.


With so many companies in Japan and around the world struggling to keep their businesses going, it’s infuriating that so much money is being wasted on 5-star hotels for IOC members, disposing of thousands of over-ordered meals every day, the tens of thousands of police officers sent for all over Japan (despite the crowds being restricted), and countless other costs that make this the most expensive games ever.


If the Japanese government had rolled out the vaccine earlier, without doing their own pointless vaccine trails with only 160 people, Japan could have been in a position to host the games in a more “safe and secure” way. Unfortunately, Japan is seeing a sharp rise in cases and more regions are calling for restrictions to be reinstated, which will obviously affect many businesses. At this point, the Japanese government’s response to the pandemic is more to blame for the physical and economic suffering in Japan than the pandemic itself.


I hope that all the haters who have been so critical that I don’t support the Olympics, can understand that I’m not anti-Japan and I don’t hate the athletes. I also hope that people can see that athletes who take part and win medals, are not the only people who have worked hard to make their hopes and dreams come true.


It would be great to see the athletes use their voices to help struggling businesses and individuals after the games and celebrations are done. I have no positive expectations for the IOC, JOC and Japanese government as the only thing that seems to drive them on, is financial and political gain. It would be great if more of the media, especially in Japan, could show a balanced and realistic picture of what is going on.


It’s not too late to make things better. Please cancel the Olympics.


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