Controversy Runs Rampant Over 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

권유지, 최민지, 정소연l승인2021.09.05l수정2021.09.05 22:09l388호 1면






   The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics began on July 23 amid unprecedented concern for health and safety, and ended in a flood of controversy over numerous management mishaps. Although the games were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, they were postponed until this year because of the on-going global pandemic. They were the first Olympics to be held after the outbreak of COVID-19, which despite the year long delay, maintained its original name the ‘2020 Tokyo Olympics’. They were also the first modern Olympics to be held during an odd numbered year. While the hosts did their best to put on a show for the world, enthusiasm and support for their efforts were continuously challenged by things they could and could not have foreseen.

   Not long after the opening of the games, the first controversy erupted over accommodation at the athlete village. Athletes complained on social media that their beds were made of ‘cardboard’ and as a result they were unable to get enough rest or recover from their strenuous training or competitions. Complaints were not unanimous. Some athletes uploaded videos of the bed, proving their sturdiness and comfort on their SNS, while others expressed their dissatisfaction with the bed’s durability. The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, responded to the criticism saying the recyclable cardboard beds were a part of their goal to create an eco-friendly Olympics and they could endure 200kg of weight and were 90cm wide and 210cm long. Athletes also complained about the lack of appliances in the room. The committee responded that a TV and refrigerator are available as paid rental items. Although all athletes were required to stay in the Olympic Village accommodation, Japan’s promising athletes, whom the nation anticipated would earn medals, were able to stay at the national training center (NTC) causing further criticism of the host nation’s management of the games.


▲ A Corrugated Bed for Tokyo Olympic (Photo from NEWSIS)


   Meanwhile, on July 26, the men’s triathlon race held at Odaiba Marine Park was riddle with controversy. Extreme weather conditions and a foul odor in the water had athletes and organizers at odds. In 2019, a triathlon at the same venue was cancelled because the level of bacteria in the water was more than two times than the healthy standard. According to competitors, Tokyo’s outdoor swimming venue smelled like a stinky toilet just days before Olympics. Olympic organizers worked hard to resolve the problems by pouring 22,000 cubic meters of clean sand into the bay and rescheduled the event kick-off times to counteract the heatwave. Despite their best efforts, the temperature was already 29.4 degrees Celsius at the start of the race, with a 67.1 percent relative humidity. Due to the treacherous conditions, athletes were seen vomiting and collapsing at the end of the race. While the public outcry heightened due to the weather and water conditions, the problems were only getting started. During a women’s field hockey match, coverage of the game was momentarily disrupted by a cockroach along the side of the field. The cameraman decided it was more interesting to show the insect crawling along the barricade than the on-going match on the field before them.

   The 2020 Tokyo Olympic also encountered criticism with regards to the treatment of their own nationals. In 2018, the yakuza, an organized crime gang in Tokyo called ‘KyoKuTo Kai’ rounded up homeless people to work on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic construction site. Historically the yakuza have maintained close ties with local construction companies and this tight bond enabled them to extort up to 10,000 yen (100,000 KW) per day out of salaries of each of the homeless workers. By the time the Japanese government addressed the complaints, it was too late. In addition, the BBC reported that in a move to clean up the streets of Tokyo, the Japanese Government forcibly evicted homeless citizens living around the national stadium. The goal was to portray a clean city to visiting athletes and foreign press. The government drove them off the streets by closing entrances to parks and turning on the bright lights at night so that they could not fall asleep. The government demolished their tents pitched near the stadiums and installed fences around the properties making sure they stayed out. The Japanese government was criticized for invading their living areas without providing any adequate countermeasures and responded by offering accommodation and meals at a nearby shelter, but the damage was already done, and few took them up on the offer.

▲ The Hidden Sight of Tokyo’s Homeless because of Olympics (Photo from BBC)


   The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are now a moment in history. We cannot underestimate the value of this Olympics where surfing and skateboarding made their debuts and historic moments were made as athletes broke existing Olympic records. However, we also cannot deny that these Olympics were embroiled in controversy. From the start of COVID-19, to claims of human rights abuses to poorly managed facilities, these are the facts. We should learn from these disappointing moments and improve upon them for the next games. The Olympics are intended to represent a torch of hope, a source of peace, and harmony for the world. Let’s hope the bright light of these games is restored for the next ones.

권유지, 최민지, 정소연
<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>


기사 댓글
첫번째 댓글을 남겨주세요.
0 / 최대 400byte

숫자를 입력해주세요

욕설등 인신공격성 글은 삭제합니다.
The Dankook Herald Complaints Rejection of Email Collection Reception Report
Dankook Univ. Jukjeon Campus, Jukjeon 1-dong, Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea (Tel. 031-8005-2427)
Dankook Univ. Cheonan Campus, Anseo-dong, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, Korea (Tel. 041-550-1656)
Publisher. Kim Su-bok | Executive Director, Dankook Media Center. Jeon Jong-woo
Administrator, Dankook Media Center. Moon Seung-jin | Editor in Chief, The Dankook Herald. Kim Min-kyung
Copyright © 1999 - 2021 The Dankook Herald. All rights reserved.