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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 25 - 31  > Tokyo gov’t should remember spirit of Olympic movement
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2017 October 25 - 31 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
column 

Tokyo gov’t should remember spirit of Olympic movement

October 28, 2017

Akahata ‘current’ column

Haneda Airport in Tokyo is widely known as one of the major gateways to Japan. However, few Tokyoites remember the days when the airport site was a multi-purpose athletic field. The ground was used as a venue for national trials proceeding the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, in which Japan first participated.

A few years before the Games in Sweden, a Japanese man was selected as a member of the International Olympic Committee. He is Kano Jigoro, who introduced Judo based on traditional Japanese martial arts. Kano thought that the Olympics would provide a great opportunity to increase public awareness of the need for physical education. He decided to lay the groundwork to help Japanese athletes to compete on the international stage. This is credited as the starting point of the Olympic Movement in Japan.

Half a century later, at an IOC session to select the host city for the 1964 Olympics, Japanese diplomat Hirasawa Kazushige took the rostrum. He stressed that elementary school students in Japan should learn about the importance of the Olympic Movement, showing a textbook for sixth graders that carries an article titled, “The Olympic flag”. His speech led to Japan’s successful bid to host the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

The Olympic Movement aims to use sports to foster sound physical development and create a peaceful and just world free from violence and discrimination. Cities and countries hosting Olympic Games have the responsibility to promote this movement. Today, October 28, the countdown of 1,000 days to go until the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games started and various events will take place. Despite this, the Olympic movement is still sluggish and preparations for the Olympics are behind schedule. Public concern is growing.

Earlier this month, a citizens’ group dealing with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics met with IOC officials in Tokyo to call for more cost-saving efforts and more transparency in the use of the budget concerning the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The group informed the officials that the Tokyo Metropolitan government was sued by residents after it sold its land to private companies at a very low price, about one-tenth of the market price. The companies will construct condominiums on the purchased land and rent them to the Tokyo government during the 2020 Summer Games so that those buildings can be used as Olympic villages.

The Tokyo government should review its stance pushing forward with large-scale construction projects without sufficiently providing information to the general public and obtaining local residents’ consent. It is high time to remember what the Olympics stands for.
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