2020 · Cultural Olympiad · Tokyo 2020

Tokyo’s Other Olympiad

While the Tokyo government is proposing some pretty hefty changes to some venues for 2020, another element of its hosting duties recently kicked off: The Cultural Olympiad.

For about the next four years, the Tokyo Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Arts Council Tokyo and Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. are going to present a bunch of cultural events to showcase the area’s artistry to the world. This is tied in with the IOC’s Olympic Charter that says one of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism is that sport can’t exist all on its own. No, Olympism combines sport with culture and education. Sounds like a lofty principle created by a gentleman, right?

Regardless, the Olympics aren’t supposed to just be about athletes. It’s supposed to remind us to be well-rounded, and a multi-year cultural program can provide exposure to the arts in a way that the IOC would applaud (also, in thinking about being an Olympic host city, it’s another cost that one may not really realize when one thinks about hosting the Olympics).

At any rate, look to Tokyo to produce some interesting events. The kickoff tipped its cap to the roots of Japanese culture with a Sanbaso dance, a historical tradition of Noh and kyogen that’s hundreds of years old, with cherry blossom petals that rained down across the audience.

Not all events will be steeped in history, so it will be interesting to see what’s up Tokyo’s cultural sleeve that fills out our program for Olympism in 2020.

2020 · IOC · Olympic cities · Tokyo 2020

Tokyo’s Getting Real

Given that everyone in Olympic Land is thinking about the 2024 bids, since the process’ next milestone is tomorrow, it’s also kind of convenient that Tokyo’s managed to pipe up and say, Excuse me, but we think this is really going to cost us a lot, and we’d to start managing costs now.

You may be aware that one of the big arguments that critics of the Olympics have is that they cost too damn much and they eventually become too much of a burden on host cities. I can’t argue with that. I love the Olympics, but I really don’t understand how the IOC can continue wanting Games the way they want them. It’s as if they think host committees are funded by some magical trust fund full of Old Money and that they can keep tapping it to maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way, and Tokyo’s finding that they’re in a bit of a bind. A bind that involves poor spending, under budgeting, and construction costs that have already spiraled out of control.  Like a fourfold increase in the budget out of control. And this isn’t the first time they’ve had to scale back, according to the Japan Times, it’s the third. That says a lot about the stupid amount of money the IOC expects cities to spend on building venues and having everything just so (and the Japanese do “just so” extremely well).

The organizing committee’s come up with a list of options so that they can save a few (billion) yen, so now Tokyo’s getting ready to get real with the IOC. And the IOC–and some of the sports federations–don’t particularly like real talk.

Inside the Games reports that IOC President Thomas Bach says the IOC and Tokyo 2020 are going to talk about Tokyo’s budget issues in a “constructive way.” That’s a nice, diplomatic way to put it–and honestly, the IOC is full of very diplomatic people.

Here at The Feverr, we’re not so diplomatic. So we’re going to imagine this future conversation and translate it from diplomacese to English for you:

Tokyo 2020: Hey, Thomas! Tommy! How’s it going? How’s the family?

T. Bach: Eh, everyone’s fine. But I hear something’s wrong with your budget. What’s up with that?

Tokyo 2020: Yeah, well, we’ve got some egg on our face, but we’ve really got to cut some costs now, or we’re going to be way in over our head. Like suicide watch over our head.

T. Bach: But you promised us certain venues.

Tokyo 2020: We know, our dude, but construction is expensive, especially since Fukushima. We didn’t know how much of a crimp in our side a tsunami and nuclear disaster was going to be.

T. Bach: I understand, but do you know how promises work?

Tokyo 2020: Yeah, Tommy, but things change over time, and we’d like you to change with us.

T. Bach: We have standards.

Tokyo 2020: We get that–and we’ll meet your standards–but we’re just going to have to do it another way.

T. Bach: I’ve heard from my buddy JC over at World Rowing. He doesn’t like the proposed changes.

Tokyo 2020: (mutters under breath about JC and rowing)

T. Bach: What was that?

Tokyo 2020: Oh, nothing. Look, we get that JC and the gang over at World Rowing aren’t thrilled about being moved a few kilometers out of the city, but–

T. Bach: A few hundred you mean.

Tokyo 2020: Right, but no big deal, you know? We’ve got a great venue there, and that’ll free up some money so that we can get that new stadium built.

T. Bach: But JC says the Sea Forest is the best site for his sport.

Tokyo 2020: JC says. JC says! Look, JC can’t see the Sea Forest for the mother-effing kelp, you dig? We don’t have the money to build it anymore!

T. Bach: Can’t you find some? Start selling t-shirts or something.

Tokyo 2020: We are. But it’s not going to be enough because we’re probably going to overpay for construction or have some corruption or hire some consultants that don’t do much. Not to mention make everything super fancy for every time the IOC comes over.

T. Bach: We have standards.

Tokyo 2020: We get that Tommy, we do. And we get that a lot of people are going to be disappointed, but if you don’t work with us, we might just tell you to shove your Olympics. Where you gonna be then? Rio? Like their venues will still be functional! London? Oh, right. A lot of their venues were temporary. And are now gone. How about Beijing–or better yet, use Athens!

Tokyo 2020 laughs maniacally.

T. Bach: OK. I hear you. We’ll talk and get back to you. Hey, can you put aside some of that whiskey I like for the next time I visit?

Tokyo 2020: Yeah, sure thing, my friend. [Hangs up the phone] Whatever.