My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design


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Visible Minorities: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem

SNA (Tokyo) — The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now past. This is a postmortem.

Last month’s column talked about the “evil” of the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in forcing an unpopular Olympics upon Japan’s residents, all the while as Tokyo’s cases spiked during a global pandemic. But I also argued how host Japan in particular is trained by national narratives to see “outsiders” (including residents who don’t “look Japanese”—our Visible Minorities) specifically as terrorists, hooligans, criminals, and vectors of disease.

These fault lines have predictably exacerbated the endemic social disease of racial discrimination. International events just give people more excuses to create “Japanese Only” signs and rules.

That’s not to say that I boycotted the Olympics. In fact, given my background, I should be a superfan. […] But thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

So despite all their promises to showcase “Diversity and Inclusion,” the Tokyo 2020 Olympics shirked that opportunity — predictably and by design…


Rest at Go read it before it goes behind paywall. Or better yet, support independent progressive journalism and subscribe to SNA for as little as a dollar a week!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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8 comments on “My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

  • I read your comment “including the creative head cracking fat jokes about a female entertainer, the composer of the ceremony bragging about his history of abusing disabled people, the director of the ceremony making wisecracks about the Holocaust, and, of course, Yoshiro Mori, the octogenarian chair, resigning after sexist remarks.”
    Anti Jewish? Check
    Anti woman? Check
    Anti disabled? Check
    Anti body positive? Check

    The only thing missing would be anti black, but as Naomi Osaka was the token “progressive” symbol I suppose they think that excuses all the other negatives?

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Well yes, yes they do!
      Japan Times, CNN, BBC, various global broadsheets, all trumpeted a variation on ‘Naomi Osaka Tokyo Diverse Japan Olympics’.
      They’re murdering NJ in detention centers, but hey, they let that black girl light the flame, so….

      • ‘Naomi Osaka Tokyo Diverse Japan Olympics’…..tempered with all the misogynistic, anti disabled, racist gaffes made on an unprecedented scale., in the same breath.
        I said it was a PR fail for Japan overall. The Oyamada one and Mori (as always) in particular but Oyamada is arguably more known in the west through his semi incoherent Japlish A Aape T shirts/A Bathing Ape.
        It just means every time someone mentions it, the negative aspects are going to come up.

        Which turns off business execs from bothering with Japan seriously, or approaching the market gingerly or not at all. You know, those wacky zany Japanese. Sure, its looking preferable to China but then the hurdles, the high production costs etc make us all think twice.
        Speaking of, I recently obtained licences for certain properties but we were told its for “Japan only”. What? No outside sales, even online? Nope.
        Economically unsustainable. Too much hassle, too many “cultural exceptionalisms’
        A bit like the message the J Olympics ended up sending. It didnt make any money either.

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      And don’t forget NBC, IOC von-ripoff’s biggest corporate media partner. They were aiming for the jackpot after their sub news outlet MSNBC lost millions of viewers since the departure of Trump. And guess what happened? NBC suffered the lowest turnout (16 million) on the Opening Ceremony. That’s less than a quarter of Japanese people who were glued to the mishmash of dope show on TV. I didn’t see any buzz about Osaka from western audience, except for some whacky Australian columnist who put his pen under a grossly racialized title to promote his satire on Japan’s fake/superficial diversity. A token Japanese athlete who acts nothing more than an AOC action figure dancing on the floor set by powerful corporate Dems is Wokery in Motion to many of us here, for sure.

      I think what’s missing in anti- label is perhaps, anti-China shtick touted in live broadcasting(and re-broadcasting) of Table Tennis and Badminton? Oh, and a 20-year-old Japanese soccer striker in the post-match interview on the day 2, who said something like, “Whatever happens to the opponents related to covid-infection will become Japan’s advantage in the match, and we can capitalize on that.” What should I call it? Anti infected?

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        Well, yes.
        And I can’t wait for the Paris Olympics- sports that Japan included as host-nation prerogative (team judo, karate kata, karate kumite) on the basis that Japan would easily win medals, are going to disappear, as will the home-team advantage of having had training schedules completely unaffected by the coronavirus (no social distancing, or lockdowns restricting access to training facilities and preventing team practice).
        The ‘record’ number of golds won in Tokyo will be an albatross of expectation in Paris.

  • Baudrillard says:

    LIke Russia, Japan is clearly split between “westernizers” and “Xenophobes”. Some people want the prestige of sitting at the great powers’ table, but can’t stomach the western freedoms that would entail.
    Or they want the money you can bring but dont want to inconvenience their local populace or local prejudices.

    Theyll make the sounds the West wants to hear on the international stage like wheeling out a Japanese of French descent to say “Omotenashi” and then its back to stuff like how Mori wants a “Pure Japanese man” to light the flame.

    Same old, same old. Naomi was used as token, sad to say.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Talking of carrying out ‘due-diligence’, in the west, the objective is to vet the applicant, in fascist police states the objective is to ascertain how much transparency to deny;
      ‘ Japan Paralympic Committee clearly learned from its Olympic counterpart’s mistakes and won’t reveal who is involved. Nikkan Sports News reported that according to interviews with people involved, the JPC decided that announcing the team members beforehand was too risky.’

      This is what Japan learned from all the Olympic scandals; to prevent outrage over cases of racism, sexism, misogyny, physical and sexual abuse, and war crime denial, simply refuse to tell the press the names of people on the tax-payers payroll!

      Tell me again how Japan ‘shares the values of the West’s liberal democracies’…


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