The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
Any large sporting event like the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the Superbowl, the World Series or other world championship events is big business. In capitalist economies that goes over with a lot of enthusiasm becuase there is so much money to be made and spent. People line up to make profits. Most people forget themselves with excitement over the money and forget the spirit of fun and physical achievement through friendly association on the field, the ice, in the water or on the slopes that sports ought to feature. Today these events too closely resemble a purely captalist enterprise, and we are hard pressed to recognize any socially redeeming value in them.
If Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara admits that he seeks the Olympic Summer Games once more just for business reasons, fine. But let us not pretend that there is social merit in them, like team spirit, friendship, fostering of healthy lifestyle habits, etc., because there is no merit in forced participation - which is a significant weakness in schools' mandatory physical education programs. Let's not tolerate listening to politicians, educators, coaches and sponsors pretending as much. In fact, it is often the pretense about sports more than the sports themselves that make these events so annoying.
When I think of the Olympics I think primarily of the sports, not the politics or the business behind them. But the former go together with the latter. So to explain the quest for the Games as a symbol of Japan's survival and recovery from disaster just exposes the pretense that no one wants to admit, like the elephant in the room.
Published on Saturday, August 27, 2011 as “Too focused on money” as part of the monthly topic page.