10 Reasons You Might Want to Think Twice about the Tokyo Olympics
Sure, the Olympics/Paralympics deliver thrilling races, stunning performances and inspiring stories… But they also steal green space and leave mountains of trash, require massive human displacement (gentrification on steroids) and worker abuse (including athlete exploitation), enforce the gender binary, promote noisy nationalism, high-tech surveillance, corruption and cost overruns.
So what’s unique about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics? It’s happening with a Declaration of Nuclear Emergency, issued March 11, 2011, still in place. Then why is Japan spending astronomical sums for the Games? Because these Games are supposed to show the world that the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a thing of the past, that Japan is roaring and ready for business. Should we go along with that agenda? Here are ten issues for you to consider:
- Eight years and counting, Tepco, the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, still lacks a viable plan for dealing with the fuel cores that not only “melted down” but “melted through” the heavy steel pressure vessel and landed …where?
- To keep the site “under control,” the plant uses massive amounts of water daily. The result? Tank after tank of contaminated water, with leaks and releases, exposing workers and the surrounding environment – including the Pacific Ocean. Factor recurring earthquakes into that mix.
- The Japanese government has spent huge sums to corporations to “decontaminate” – moving radioactive contaminants instead of getting people away from harm. Their method involves bagging yard waste and topsoil, resulting in seas of neatly stacked black plastic bags. And just think: 70 % of Fukushima consists of forests and mountains – which by definition cannot be decontaminated. Moreover, the government even wants to reuse contaminated soil.
- Decontamination can reduce radiation levels to a degree, for a limited time and space. But, every part of the process – hosing down, trimming, digging, bagging, burying, re-digging, transporting, reusing – subjects workers to the risk of exposure. Not surprisingly, many of them are Fukushima residents who lost their livelihoods in the 2011 disaster.
- Radioactivity itself is invisible. In Fukushima, strange white columns called “monitoring posts” for measuring airborne radiation have become an awkward feature of the landscape. The government wants to get rid of them. Local residents insist that the disaster is not over and that the government needs to be looking after its people—not hosting a sports extravaganza that benefits an elite few.
- People who fled radiation—often women with children—knew all too well from the beginning the absurdity of the Games being hosted in Tokyo. Their existence is now being erased, with the government cutting off housing aid and opening up mandatory evacuation zones it deems safe for return. What’s “safe” for the Japanese government is 20 times looser than international standards.
- The mandated evacuation zone in Fukushima was too narrow in the first place, and many areas including parts of Tokyo should be designated “radiation-controlled areas,” where you’d have to be trained in radiation occupational safety and wear personal protective equipment.
- The Japanese government and the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC), with the implicit collaboration of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have concealed or distorted data inconvenient not just for declaring an end to the disaster but for continuing with the national nuclear program. In fact, the Games are a key weapon in suppressing information on radiation and health effects. In the only large-scale health study conducted on the nuclear disaster, the government consistently denies a link between radiation and people’s health, despite a striking increase of thyroid cancer among children and youths.
- The JOC claims that airborne radiation levels in Fukushima and Tokyo are no higher than those in other world cities. But radionuclides move around, and there are many radioactive waste storage sites close to Olympic venues, in addition to “hotspots” with highly radioactive contaminants carried by the wind and distributed unevenly throughout eastern Japan.
- The JOC has chosen sites in Fukushima for the Olympic softball and baseball games. As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. To make sure we get the point, the Olympic torch relay will begin in Fukushima, just 20km (12 miles) south of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are a disaster coverup.
Is that something you want to be part of?
Statement drafted by NoTokyo2020, an informal collective standing in solidarity with the people of Fukushima and other disaster-affected areas, both those who have left and those who have stayed on.
Image courtesy of 281_Anti nuke