The 2020 Olympics: Why Many are Wary of the Consequences of the Famed Games

Liana Giacobbe ‘20

This year, the 2020 Summer Olympics are being held in Tokyo, Japan, introducing five new sports that raise the grand total to thirty-three events. Some of the more traditional games, such as canoeing and boxing, will be balanced with additional games “primarily with an eye towards increased gender equality” [1]. This alteration of the games present at the Olympics represents a wider shift to be more inclusive of all athletes, allowing them to showcase their skills in more fitting ways. These changes are representative of the evolving mindset in the world of athletics: becoming more accommodating to all. Many have already purchased their tickets to the games, anxiously awaiting all the innovative and exciting events that the Tokyo games have in store.


However, not all see the games as a time of excitement and joy. A group of protestors has formed in Japan, known simply as the Okotowari Olympics 2020, or the No Thanks Olympics 2020. They are fighting against the games due to the negative repercussions that often occur post-games in the cities that host the Olympics, primarily “debt, displacement, and hyper-militarization” [2]. They fear what may happen to the poorer citizens of Japan, specifically Tokyo, if the Olympics are still held in one of the most populous cities in the world. Additionally, they argue that Japan’s government needs to work towards aiding those still recovering from various events that have occurred fairly recently, such as the catastrophic earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011. The governments of countries that host the games are notorious for spending lavishly on the Olympic village and stadiums, an act that many see as poor budgeting. Some of the construction that has already been done to accomodate all of the sports and athletes headed to Japan, with much of Tokyo’s existing architecture being demolished and relocated solely to ensure that the Olympic plans will be followed. However, despite all of the time and energy spent on reconstructing the city for the arrival of the games, there has been few efforts made to aid those still struggling from the detrimental effects of the recent occurrences in Japan.


Though the games will surely be times of excitement and joy, there are many effects that must be considered not just for the 2020 Olympics, but for all the games to come. The Olympic games have a tendency to mask the actual inner conditions of a country, hiding the inequality of wealth and living conditions in many places worldwide. Those protesting the games are hoping that this won’t be the case for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and that they can stop this cycle from affecting even more locations worldwide.