NOlympics LA Releases Statement on Tokyo 2020 & COVID-19
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2020
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"Canceling the Olympics is not only possible; it’s absolutely necessary," says NOlympics LA
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles 2028 Olympics opposition group, NOlympics LA, has released a statement on the need to cancel the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, after an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound told USA Today that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021. Full statement below and online here. You can also read NOlympics LA's guide on how to report on the Olympics here.
On Coronavirus, The Olympics, and the failures that led us here
As the world struggles to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all witnessing the effects of governmental failures in real time.
On March 8th, the City of Los Angeles allowed the LA Marathon to take place, blithely ignoring the state of emergency declared by the governor just four days prior.
When the only proven way to prevent contagion is social distancing, over 27,000 people were free to sweat and spit on the streets of LA, despite protestations from the city’s most vulnerable citizens. Los Angeles’s municipal apparatus showed us yet again what the city prioritizes. Tourism over people.
In Japan, the fate of the 2020 Olympic games hangs in the balance. While the first leg of the torch relay that runs through Greece has already been canceled, the Japanese government — in conjunction with the Japanese Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee — has made it clear that it is willing to risk the safety and well-being of its residents in order to host the games. This is the story of every Olympics. The Olympics over people.
It’s telling that many of the big Coronavirus hotspots are upcoming Olympic host countries: Japan, China, France, Italy, United States, and possibly Korea again. It’s almost as if this virus thrives in places with a compliant press, lack of democracy, and a government that has been fully sold out to international tourism and real-estate developers. The threat of cancellation emphasizes the absurdity of putting so many resources into such a short event, and encourages profiteers to carry on with the games despite the grave danger of attending large gatherings during a pandemic. Government profit over people.
Why did it take a global pandemic for the IOC to finally start worrying about the possible effects the Olympic Games can have on a population? Displacement, police militarization, abuse of athletes, environmental damage, and wide-scale harassment of the unhoused have always been a part of the Olympics’ DNA. The 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics are just a few examples of the IOC’s community devastating the very communities it purports to serve. They’re not exceptions; they’re the rule. The Olympic Games take place over a few weeks. Still, preparations for the games start years before the event itself and begin to change the face of the host cities long before anyone has even run a lap. Once the games conclude, they leave generations of people’s lives altered, and it’s never for the better. The only beneficiaries are the smug politicians and developers, fleecing spectators by misdirecting away from the games’ real costs. Private gain over people.
Postponing the Tokyo games would only lengthen the time that the people of Tokyo have to endure over-policing, abusive labor practices, and threats to their livelihoods. Even if the Tokyo games are canceled because of the pandemic, much of the damage has already been done. Tokyo 2020 is now a disaster (Coronavirus) on top of a disaster (the Olympics themselves) on top of another disaster (Fukushima ‘11). This is celebration capitalism careening into disaster capitalism on a level we’ve never seen. The Olympics over the entire planet.
If these last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that nationalism and civic exceptionalism have disastrous consequences. We will not avoid the wreckage the Olympics will bring to Los Angeles just because we believe we can do it better. We can’t even test our residents for COVID-19. With rising oceans and rising rents threatening to drive even more Angelenos from our homes, we must focus city resources on protecting our most vulnerable residents, which is millions of people.
Canceling the Olympics is not only possible; it’s absolutely necessary. We shouldn’t need a pandemic to get this done. Life without shelter is already a health crisis.
We must put people first. This is why we choose to fight not only against the LA 2028 Olympic bid but against any bid in any city and in any year. The Coronavirus is yet another symptom exposing the deeper catastrophes of capitalism on a global scale.
The only answer is to abolish the Olympics in 2020 and beyond.
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