SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Borjigin Husel “What has Tokyo 2020 left behind the World?”
The 32nd Olympiad “Tokyo 2020” came to an end on 8 August 2021 after keen, glorious and impressive competitions for seventeen days. It was postponed first for one year due to the COVID-19 and started on 23 July 2021 in Tokyo under the attraction of world attention.
Significance of Tokyo 2020, I do not repeat it because Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mentioned repeatedly in their opening and ending speeches. On the other hand, there were criticism toward the Olympics even before the opening, during the games and after the closing. There were a lot of opinions for and against Olympics like “tears” “reconstruction” “throb” “unorthodox” “uneasiness” “confusion” “impressive” “too hot (temperature)” “no spectators” “intentional negligence” “liar” “selfish” “refugee players” “unprecedented” and “gold diggers” etc.
Tokyo 2020 had number of issues which had conflicts and challenges.
Foreign news bulletin reported framework and situation which lead to opening of the Olympics favorably and introduced criticism in Japan too. Generally, there were a lot of praise.
However, strange enough, when Japanese media introduced overseas news broadcast about Tokyo 2020, they intended to criticize greatly finding “negative evaluation” by using every conceivable mean. Why are they self-denial or self-deprecated?
I visited Olympic Stadium (Japan National Stadium) around 4:00 pm on August 6. It was clear and had mild gentle breeze. August 6 is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony (A-Bomb Day). There were a lot of policemen and patrol cars around Olympic Stadium and were under the authority of Hiroshima Prefecture. There was no festival atmosphere of Olympic and I had a feeling like “any incident has taken place”.
I liked to observe the Olympic Monument which is installed in front of the Japanese Olympic Museum. But the road between the Stadium and Museum were closed. There were many policemen in front of the entrance and there was a signboard “You cannot enter after 4:00 pm”. I asked a policeman why? and got reply that “there will be a demonstration”. As I could not visit the Olympic Monument so. I walked around the Stadium to look for demonstration. But I could not.
Around 6 p.m. one dozen scale demonstration started “finally”. They shouted beating saucepans or bowls and holding up dolls like “skull”. As they used a few speakers, their voice echoed. I listened to what they protested and found protested was for Tokyo 2020.
They only denounced Japanese Government, Executive Committee of Tokyo 2020, IOC, athletes and medalists rather than “protested”. Outrageous writings which abuse Tokyo 2020 became topics on internet. I read such writings and feel no refinement nor logic.
I do not understand them, who slander, smear or insult athletes and medalists.
I dare say that this “demonstration” was effective. For boatload demonstrators, a few hundreds of policemen and a dozen of patrol cars were mobilized. Roads were closed and we could not visit the Olympic Stadium and Olympiad Monument. Furthermore, several newspaper companies and TV stations domestic and overseas covered and reported this demonstration. People who did not visit the site and see the news, they will misunderstand “whole Japan” were protesting Tokyo 2020. Demonstrators kept their “close contact” condition for more than an hour and noise echoed around the Olympic Stadium and Olympiad Monument for more than an hour.
The Olympic Motto “Faster, Higher and Stronger” should be added “Together” at Tokyo 2020. A lot of people are forgetting this Motto regretfully. I hope either supporters or opponents and who ignore the Tokyo 2020 would discuss or interact under this Motto.
It was an ordeal for the Tokyo Organizing Committee and Tokyo 2020. I thought Tokyo 2020 itself was an ordeal. Not only Japanese Government, Tokyo Organizing Committee and IOC but athletes and medalists were also abused. Medalists and their families had to refrain from their delights.
We saw a lot of volunteers around the Stadium. As you may know, many healthcare professionals and volunteers participated at Tokyo 2020 and one of my students participated. I am proud of him.
Japanese mass media ask sometime “what will Tokyo 2020 leave behind in Japan?”
I think the Olympism aims for “respect of dignity of human beings” “harmonious growth of mankind”. “The Olympic is the festival of peace of the world”.
It will take time to evaluate Tokyo 2020 properly. It was a challenge to open Tokyo 2020 in such unexpected circumstances like spread of COVID-19 and its pandemic.
Tokyo 2020 contributed to the world greatly by peaceful opening. Everybody will understand its contribution several years later and Tokyo 2020 would be covered in glory.
SGRA Kawaraban 678 in Japanese (Original)
Borjigin Husel / Professor of Faculty of International Studies, Showa Women’s University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala