Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Congratulations to the people of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil for their right to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. It’s their problem now, and good riddance, so Tokyo can heave a sigh for having dodged a bullet. Government here has enough on its plate already - trying to control its foreign residents, deciding which dams to build or not to build (I get confused what with all the flip-flops on the question of dam construction), prosecuting celebrities for drug possession, whitewashing history textbooks, etc.
Organized, competitive team sports being what they are make the Olympics a mania-inducing pathology. So there is an element of mental illness involved in them - participating in them, soliciting them, advocating them. They are not the peak of athletic achievement. That is what World Championship tournaments are for. They are not a celebration of the brotherhood of Man. That is what universal religion is for. They are not a peaceful gathering of ordinary people so much as a hostile congregation of tribal warriors. And, they are not an esthetic spectacle. Professional athletes are more like physiological freaks.
The Olympics are more than anything a political and capitalist orgy, pushing the depravity of organized team sports as a kind of opiate of the masses. I reject organized, competitive team sports because they are an opiate and an inappropriate model of human relationships and interaction. On the one hand they dull our senses, and on the other hand they lead us in a wrong direction. The former paves the way for the latter.
I could be wrong, but enough of that already. Congratulations to the Cariocas, the people of Rio de Janeiro for their success. It’s theirs now.
Printed Sunday, October 11, 2009 as “Tokyo dodged the Olympic bullet.”
The paper decided to publish this anti-Olympics letter on the long Sports Day holiday weekend. Monday 12th is Sports Day, the annual commemoration of the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games on October 10, 1964. The holiday was pushed to the nearest Monday - the 12th in this year’s case - as a result of former Prime Minister Keizo Obushi’s “Happy Monday” law, designed to streamline the Japanese calendar by creating long weekend holidays. My opposition to organized team sports is a theme I have written about more than once. Basically, my opposition goes back to mandatory physical education in junior high school - those tender, impressionable pubescent years. I want to tell my teachers, “Hey, you made a mistake, dudes,” on the matter of phys ed.
In addition, sports are just so silly compared to study. The body will age and die, but the mind is more durable. Furthermore, sports are a substitute for war. But I suggest the real thing - terrible as it is - is better, or more authentic than a bad imitation.
The paper edited my letter a little. The sentencse, “And, they are not an esthetic spectacle. Professional athletes are more like physiological freaks,” were cut. I regret that, because I wanted to make the point that professional athletes bodies are so honed - on top of being genetically endowed to begin with - that they are freakish compared to the average person.
And, my closing sentences were cut. “I could be wrong, but enough of that already. Congratulations to the Cariocas, the people of Rio de Janeiro for their success. It’s theirs now.” I wanted to use the word “Cariocas” because that is the nickname of Rio residents and I wanted to show that I knew it. And by closing with “It’s theirs now,” I wanted to reinforce the suggestion that the Olympics are a problem.
I know that responsibility for the Olympics lies mostly with the city governments, not the national governments and that some of the things I listed are federal concerns in Japan, not Tokyo concerns. Dam construction and Immigration laws, for example.
Then it warmed my heart to read two anti-Olympics letters on Thursday, June 23, 2011, “Unhealthy promotion of sports,” by David Wood of Chikushino, Fukuoka, and “Tax money for homes, not arenas” by William Noll of Tokyo. They were criticizing Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s decision to re-petition the IOC for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games that was announced that week - just two years after losing the 2016 Summer Olympics bid to Rio de Janeiro. Their complaints were based on economics - on how wasteful it is to spend money to bid for and then prepare for the games when money ought better to be spent meeting the needs of those still suffering from the March 11, 2011 disaster of earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku.
My objection to sports is different. I am not against sports at all. I enjoy throwing a ball around as much as anyone. I am against organized, competitive team sports on the grounds that such things are morally depraved with no redeeming social or educational merit. On those grounds it appears that the Olympic Games and Governor Ishihara are two peas in a pod.
Readers of the Readers in Council page are no doubt sick of my frequent letters, and they are familiar with my common themes - one being a strong objection to organized team sports. (My Sunday, July 20, 2008 letter “Social competition or pathology?”is on the same theme. My Sunday, February 10, 2008 letter “Coach is gone and good riddance” and my Sunday, March 21, 2004 letter “Break out the steroids,” also demonstrate my hostility towards organized team sports.) So I am happy to see others also objecting to the Olympics.