New book: “NOlympics: Critiquing Tokyo 2020/1”

A new German-language book edited by Steffi Richter, Andreas Singler, Dorothea Mladenova explores the Tokyo 2020 Olympics spectacle at the intersection of disaster and celebration capitalism. It features chapters from Ichimura Misako, Koide Hiroaki, Ukai Satoshi, Jules Boykoff, William Andrews, Philippe Stützer, Itani Satoko, Christian Tagsold, and Markus Heinrich, in addition to the editors. The following blurb is reprinted with permission from the website of Andreas Singler:

With their resolute and uncompromising adherence to the hosting of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo amid the global coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee, Japanese government, and organizers of Tokyo 2020/1 lost much credibility, integrity, and sympathy around the world. This situation, however, was not unexpected for many. The coronavirus crisis has merely once again exposed immense deficiencies that have long been vehemently criticized by a transnational anti-Olympic movement that is growing in size and importance.

The edited volume NOlympics. Tōkyō 2020/1 in der Kritik (NOlympics. Critiquing Tokyo 2020/1) brings together scholarly assessments of various problematic aspects of the Games as well as those voices that have been involved in numerous campaigns against the Olympics. These criticisms and protests are directed against the very institution of the Olympic Games and other mega-events that facilitate what Jules Boykoff calls “celebration capitalism.” The Olympics are, among other things, alleged to promote social exclusion in host countries, escalate nationalism, and undermine democratic values.

These problems that are visible even in “normal” times take on even more dramatic proportions for those affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, who are still suffering almost a decade after the 2011 triple catastrophe. The Olympics have failed to advocate for the victims of the nuclear disaster, while also notoriously failing the socially vulnerable in general. The euphemistic idea of the “Reconstruction Games,” promoted by the organizers but long condemned by the actual people in the affected areas as an empty publicity slogan, cannot hide this fact. In order not to endanger the Olympics, critics say, Fukushima residents are exposed to increased radiation risks. And the reconstruction genuinely deserving of this name and focused on the real needs of those affected by the disaster is rather sacrificed at the altar of the Olympics for their success.

The response of the Tokyo 2020/1 stakeholders to the coronavirus crisis, which has been widely criticized as irresponsible and prioritizing solely the economic benefits of the IOC and a few private companies, is striking and sheds light on the true nature of the “Olympic system” in the 21st century that has now completely lost touch with those whom it claims to serve.

Steffi Richter, Andreas Singler, Dorothea Mladenova (eds.) NOlympics. Tōkyō 2020/1 in der Kritik [NOlympics: Critiquing Tōkyō 2020/1]. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2020. 

Visit the publisher website.