AuthorZirin, Dave

As I write this, I am preparing to travel to Tokyo, site of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. The purpose of the trip is to assess the state of preparations for next year's Games: the hype, the pomp, the circumstance. It is also to investigate just how damaging the Olympics are expected to be for Tokyo itself.

Everywhere the Olympics nest--particularly the grander and more costly Summer Games--they bring a plague of debt, displacement, and hyper-militarization. The hope for Tokyo is that popular movements will mitigate the worst of this, that it wont be another Rio or London or Athens or... frankly, take your pick.

Yet already, even at a distance from the United States, it is clear that the cracks are showing. Hell, you can see these cracks from outer space. Initially, the Games were supposed to cost $7.3 billion, expensive but in line with past Olympic Games. Yet by October 2018, the price tag had exploded to $25 billion, with talk of a final tally upwards of $30 billion--an astronomical figure rivaled only by the Beijing Games of 2008, which cost at least $40 billion.

As author and academic Jules Boykoff told me recently, "Tokyo 2020's ballooning price tag emerged in part through the organizers' decision to secure the services of celebrity architect Zaha Hadid, who designed a sleek yet spendy stadium with costs that escalated to around $2 billion." Hadid died in 2016.

For a dollop of perspective, the garish, outlandish stadium of the Dallas Cowboys, funded largely by taxpayers for the benefit of their garish, outlandish owner Jerry Jones, cost roughly half as much.

In fact, Tokyo already has stadiums that could have been used, but chose to build one from scratch. It's wasteful, environmentally unsound, and bloats the final costs, which get passed on to taxpayers.

I am headed to not only Tokyo but also Fukushima, site in 2011 of the worst nuclear meltdown since Chernobyl. Fukushima sits only 140 miles from Tokyo and there are several Olympic events planned to take place there, including softball. Even the widely watched journey of the Olympic torch plans on starting in Fukushima.

This is not an accident. It is part of the optics carefully constructed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who aims to show off Fukushimas recovery and assuage concerns that it is still a dangerous place to set foot. As Abe said in 2013, during the city's Olympic pitch to the International Olympic Committee, "Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure...

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