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I’ve been meaning to talk about the Olympics for a while, but other topics kept coming up that were more timely. As I’m sure you are all aware, Tokyo is bidding to host the 2020 Olympics, and I am interested to know what you all think about the idea.

As we saw in the UK last year, hosting the Olympics brings a huge “feel good” factor to a country, and it also has a lot of more tangible benefits, such as a boost for tourism, increases in employment, and investment in sport and infrastructure.

The problem with hosting the Olympics of course, is that it costs a huge amount of money. Many people believe that it is completely inappropriate for the Japanese government to be making a bid for the Olympics while there are still thousands of people in Tohoku living in temporary accommodation.

Others argue, however, that the Olympics is exactly what Japan needs to help its people recover from the disaster and the ongoing recession.

I am very interested to know which side of the argument you all favour, so please let me know.

Look forward to hearing your opinions.

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22 Comments

  1. YU on Monday April 8th, 2013 at 08:45 PM

    今週のエントリーの訳です。

    Tokyo’s Olympic Bid

    I’ve been meaning to talk about the Olympics for a while, but other topics kept coming up that were more timely.
    ここのところずっとオリンピックについて話し合おうと思っていたのですが、もっとタイムリーな話題が次々に出て来てしまって(今週になってしまいました)。

    As I’m sure you are all aware, Tokyo is bidding to host the 2020 Olympics, and I am interested to know what you all think about the idea.
    皆さん絶対知っていると思いますが、東京が2020年のオリンピック主催に名乗りをあげていています。私は皆さんがそれについてどう考えているのか興味があります。

    As we saw in the UK last year, hosting the Olympics brings a huge “feel good” factor to a country, and it also has a lot of more tangible benefits, such as a boost for tourism, increases in employment, and investment in sport and infrastructure.
    去年のイギリスでのオリンピックに見たように、オリンピックを主催するということはその国に非常に大きな“高揚感”をもたらします。また、観光事業の促進、雇用の増加、スポーツやインフラ整備への投資など、多くの見に見える利益もあります。

    The problem with hosting the Olympics of course, is that it costs a huge amount of money.
    オリンピック主催することの問題点は、もちろん、それが莫大な費用を要する、ということです。

    Many people believe that it is completely inappropriate for the Japanese government to be making a bid for the Olympics while there are still thousands of people in Tohoku living in temporary accommodation.
    多くの人々が未だ多くの東北の人たちが仮設住宅で暮らしているのに日本政府がオリンピ
    ック主催国を(他国と)競り合うなんて全く不適当だと思っています。

    Others argue, however, that the Olympics is exactly what Japan needs to help its people recover from the disaster and the ongoing recession.
    しかし、まさにそのオリンピックこそ、日本がその人々を災害や長引く経済不況から立ち直らせるのに必要なものだ、と主張する人達もいます。

    I am very interested to know which side of the argument you all favour, so please let me know.
    皆さんがどちら側の主張に賛成なのかとても興味があるので教えてください。

    Look forward to hearing your opinions.
    皆さんの意見を聞くのを楽しみにしています。



  2. David Barker on Tuesday April 9th, 2013 at 09:35 AM

    Thanks YU.



  3. Biwa on Tuesday April 9th, 2013 at 09:54 AM

    Hi YU,

    Thank you always for the translation. And congratulations on your son’s entering kindergarten!

    Hi everyone,

    I’ll write about the topic as soon as I finish reading ‘Outliers’. It’s so interesting that I can’t think of anything else at the moment! I have ninety more pages to go. I wish I could read faster.



  4. YU on Tuesday April 9th, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    As David mentioned, hosting the Olympics has both advantages and disadvantages to a country, so I’m wavering ‘for’ and ‘against’ actually.

    > The problem with hosting the Olympics of course, is that it costs a huge amount of money.

    Before hosting the Olympics, it alreay costs a large amount of money to invite it. Tokyo has been investing a huge amount of money in inviting the Olympics this time and four years ago, and I never want it to fail this time. I wonder how many new houses could have been built for people in Tohoku living in temporary accommodation with the money.

    > Others argue, however, that the Olympics is exactly what Japan needs to help its people recover from the disaster and the ongoing recession.

    There is some truth in this, too, but the point is that how much they will be able to enjoy the benefits in reality. As we saw in the recent Olympics, there is no sense if it helps only sponsor companies and some limited districts around the host city.

    Hi Biwa,

    Thank you for your kind word!

    See you!



  5. YU on Tuesday April 9th, 2013 at 06:08 PM

    correction :

    > so I’m wavering ‘for’ and ‘against’ actually

    so I’m wavering between ‘for’ and ‘against’ actually



  6. Fumie on Tuesday April 9th, 2013 at 09:54 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    First, I agreed on Tokyo’s Olympic Bid if it will produce big profits and help recovering from the disaster and the ongoing recession. But my thought changed after I read YU’s comment and some articles of it.

    >Before hosting the Olympics, it already costs a large amount of money to invite it. Tokyo has been investing a huge amount of money in inviting the Olympics this time and four years ago, and I never want it to fail this time. I wonder how many new houses could have been built for people in Tohoku living in temporary accommodation with the money.

    YU has a point! We should prioritize building proper houses for the victims. I’m also skeptical whether the profits by the Olympics will be used for good purposes or not.
    Another thing is, I don’t know much about the Olympics but if we bid for the Olympics, venue could be another major cities; Kyoto, Nagoya or Osaka. I don’t know if it’s possible or not, though. Kyoto is a lovely city and it attracts many foreigners
    Tokyo wasn’t elected before, so why again?

    In conclusion, if there is a good prospect of a large profit and that profit will be used for recovering the disaster and recession, I agree on bidding for the Olympics, hopefully in Kyoto or other cities except Tokyo.



  7. Mika on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Hi David and everyone,
    >Many people believe that it is completely inappropriate for the Japanese government to be making a bid for the Olympics while there are still thousands of people in Tohoku living in temporary accommodation. Others argue, however, that the Olympics is exactly what Japan needs to help its people recover from the disaster and the ongoing recession.

    I’m sorry, but I’d like to comment in Japanese about this week’s topic.
    アスリート達にとってオリンピックは夢の舞台であり大きな目標が7年後にあれば素晴らしいことであるが、そこには疑問や危惧することも少なくない。
    1.オリンピック勧誘に必要な莫大な資金がどこから出ているのか?
    2.仮に決まったとしても、雇用促進は一時的なことではないか?
    3.東北の仮設住宅で暮らす人達にどういう利点があるのか?
    「日本はオリンピックを開催できるまでに元気になりました」とでも言いたいのか? 原発事故の後処理も遅々として進んでいないように思われるのに。
    4.インフラ整備の投資は良いことだが、その資金は?
    今、日本はインフラ老朽化が深刻である。トンネルの屋根の崩落は記憶に新しいところである。

    下記は、先日、下水道の陥没問題についてテレビで報道されていたことである。
    ①下水道の法定耐用年数は40年で、1970年代に設置されたものが最も多い。
    ②大きな幹線道路の地中に配管されているために調査が難しく、取り換えも困難である。
    ③東京都の2020年の下水道の陥没危険度は3割と予想される。
    ④自治体だけの運営ではもはや限界である (民間企業は老朽化対策費を積み立てしているのだが)。管轄エリアの根本的な見直しが迫られている。(ただし、群馬県のある市では対策を講じ、結果水道料の値上げをせずに、着々と配管の交換を実施)
    ⑤橋もその法定耐用年数が深刻な問題となっている。

    オリンピックが開催されなくてもインフラ整備は必至である。それが目前の課題事項のように聞こえるのは腑に落ちないし、もし開催地区限定で行われるなら論外である。オリンピック効果が全ての人に平等に配分されることは難しいが、必要以上の不平等感が漂うことのないようにと願う。
    そして、最も大事なことは、やるからには成功して欲しい。



  8. Biwa on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 03:17 PM

    Hi everyone,

    >Tokyo has been investing a huge amount of money in inviting the Olympics this time and four years ago, and I never want it to fail this time.

    I know exactly what you mean. It’s really rediculous to spend a huge amount of money even for the bid when the reconstuction of the Tohoku area is top priority. However, as they have already spent so much money, honestly speaking, I’ll be really angry if they don’t actually win(?) the bid and host the Olympics, and activate the economy or whatever and get the money back!

    Anyway, they’re talking about 2020, and that’s going to be seven years later. I really hope they don’t mistake the priorities, and situations in the Tohoku area settled down by then.

    Hi David and Anne,

    I finished reading ‘Outliers’ last night, and thank you for introducing such a great book. I like the way the author explains things with lots of examples. It gave me a different view towards the world. Every chapter was really interesting, and the arguement about “the cultural differences and plane crashes” and “rice paddies and math abilities” was especially impressive. Interestingly, it reminded me of our discussions about the overtime working. Most of those high-power distance index countries and rice-making countries seems to overlap with the countries struggling to reduce working hours. The steps Korean Air took to reduce plane crashes might be useful for reducing working hours, I guess!



  9. Biwa on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 03:50 PM

    correction:

    reconstuction⇒reconstruction
    settled down⇒are settled down



  10. Anne on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 04:26 PM

    Hi YU,
    How was the entrance ceremony?
    Congratulations to your son for starting kindergarten. Was he nervous or thrilled?

    Hi Biwa,

    Oh, you’ve already finished reading,haven’t you!?
    We seem to share the same idea.
    I wrote about what I had thought about on my blog,so if you are interested in it, have a look from the following link.
    http://blog.goo.ne.jp/22anne22/e/90a61299bc02d9d1a4d253dcab2f9c67

    Hi everyone,
    I understand there are lots of pros and cons for the idea that Tokyo is bidding to host the 2020 Olympics. It is true that there are advantages and disadvantages for that, however I’m wondering which country in the world can afford to host Olympics without worrying about these problems. Also, I’m wondering what is the meaning of the Olympics. Anyway, I remember “feeling good” moment when the Tokyo Olympic was held in 1964. I’m guessing Istanbul will land the big prize.

    Anne



  11. YU on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 05:18 PM

    Hi Fumie,

    > YU has a point! We should prioritize building proper houses for the victims.

    I also hope that all disaster victims will be able to live in a proper house as soon as possible, but I’m not saying that it must be done first of all.

    > venue could be another major cities; Kyoto, Nagoya or Osaka

    If I remember correctly, I think both Nagoya and Osaka failed to bid for the Olympics in the past, especially it was not so long ago that Osaka failed it.

    Hi Mika,

    1.オリンピック勧誘に必要な莫大な資金がどこから出ているのか?

    I think it is mainly from Tokyo metropolitan resident’s tax and subsidies.
    As you know, Mr.Inose was elected the new Governor of Tokyo last December. I heard it ended in a landslide victory for him.
    Everyone knew that he was eager to devote all his political life in inviting the Olympics, so I guess at least most of residents of Tokyo are very happy to know that their precious money is used to invite the Olympics! 皮肉ですけど。

    > オリンピックが開催されなくてもインフラ整備は必至である。それが目前の課題事項のように聞こえるのは腑に落ちないし、もし開催地区限定で行われるなら論外である。

    I agree. It’s not fair if only Tokyo and some limited areas around Tokyo are prioritized. Tokyo’s plan features “a compact Olympics”: Major competition venues would be concentrated within an eight-kilometer radius of the Olympic Village, so it’s unlikely to retore and improve infrastructure in other areas in Japan except Tokyo and some limited cities around Tokyo.

    Hi Anne,

    >however I’m wondering which country in the world can afford to host Olympics without worrying about these problems

    You have a point.

    > I remember “feeling good” moment when the Tokyo Olympic was held in 1964.

    Actually, I’d like to experience the feeling once, too. My son will be 12 then, so I guess it will be a significant event for his life, too.

    > How was the entrance ceremony?
    Congratulations to your son for starting kindergarten. Was he nervous or thrilled?

    Thank you!
    It was an interenting ceremony, especially when 園長先生 ventriloquized with a bird doll to entertain new pupils, I couldn’t stop laughing!
    My son went to his kindergarten and met his new classmates today for the first time. As soon as he got off his schoolbus, he said to me “It was fun!!”, so I was relieved!



  12. Kattie on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 09:48 PM

    Before the London Olympics I thought it was too much money to spend when the country was (and still is) in a very bad economic situation and that the event would be very London centric and would not really benefit the rest of the UK. It sounds like this is how many of you feel about the idea of an Olympics in Tokyo

    However, once the Olympics started, I was carried away by the excitement of it. It all started with the Opening Ceremony which I thought really captured the spirit and history of the whole of the UK – I think Danny Boyle, who directed it, helped unify the country and a lot of sceptics, like me, soon changed our tune!
    I’m not sure what the long term economic benefits will be and I know a lot of businesses actually complained that they suffered during the Olympics because their regular visitors stayed away anticipating huge crowds but there was generally a short-term ‘feel good’ factor which swept the nation. After the event, I feel a little ambivalent about it; on the one hand it was an exciting and historic occasion but on the other hand, I was very irritated by things like how difficult it was to buy reasonably priced tickets and also by the way that some politicians tried to take credit for it, when really it had very little to do with them.

    I don’t know what Tokyo’s prospects of winning the bid are but if the city doesn’t win, it will seem like a very big waste of money particularly when, as many of you have said, so many people still need housing. If Tokyo stands a good chance of winning and analysts are sure that there will be huge economic and social benefits, then, if I was Japanese, I would probably be in favour of it. Actually interestingly, when London was bidding for the Olympics many people thought that Paris would win but Jacques Chirac (who was the French President at the time) made a comment which many people thought swung the votes in our favour! Here is a clip about it from wiki Chirac became the subject of controversy the day before the International Olympic Committee was due to pick a host city for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Chirac made comments stating that “the only worse food than British food is Finnish” and “the only thing the British have done for Europe’s agriculture is mad cow disease”. Not only were Chirac’s comments considered unsportsmanlike where the normal etiquette is not to criticize rival cities, there was also the presence of two Finnish members on the committee who would vote in the final ballot. Out of the competing candidate cities, the bid was widely acknowledged as the front runner but Paris’s narrow loss to arch-rival London led many to believe that Chirac’s comments were at fault. It seems that the French public laid the blame of the failure on president Chirac.

    Hi Yu,

    It must be a great relief that your son is enjoying his kindergarten, I hope the fun continues….just another 15 odd years of education to go!



  13. Fumie on Wednesday April 10th, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Hi YU,

    >If I remember correctly, I think both Nagoya and Osaka failed to bid for the Olympics in the past, especially it was not so long ago that Osaka failed it.
    You are right. I googled about it and both Osaka and Nagotya failed.

    My son went to his kindergarten and met his new classmates today for the first time. As soon as he got off his schoolbus, he said to me “It was fun!!”, so I was relieved!
    Don’t you feel a little bit sad because he can spend time without you?



  14. YU on Thursday April 11th, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    correction:

    > so it’s unlikely to retore and improve infrastructure

    retore -> restore

    > It was an interenting ceremony

    interenting -> interesting

    Hi Kattie,

    > I don’t know what Tokyo’s prospects of winning the bid are

    It is said that Istanbul is in the lead at the moment. Or many people say that it is practically impossible that Japan will win because there will be Winter Olympics in South Korea(=also Asia) in 2018 which is just two years before.

    > the bid was widely acknowledged as the front runner but Paris’s narrow loss to arch-rival London led many to believe that Chirac’s comments were at fault. It seems that the French public laid the blame of the failure on president Chirac.

    I didn’t know there was such a story behind that! Actually, I was quite surprised hearing that London won at the time.

    > there was also the presence of two Finnish members on the committee who would vote in the final ballot.

    I wonder if Chirac didn’t know it…
    By the way, I heard that our Crown Prince received IOC commitee members in audience when they visited Japan to evaluate Tokyo’s plan this January. Apparently, it was very unusual for the Imperial Family to participate in the projects of inviting the Olympics, but Tokyo has decided to call for their cooperation knowing that some of the IOC committee members were from royal families and they tended to vote for the countries where its royal/imperial family was cooperative with inviting the Olympics.

    > I hope the fun continues….just another 15 odd years of education to go!

    Indeed! It has just begun!!

    Hi Fumie,

    > Don’t you feel a little bit sad because he can spend time without you?

    Of course, I’m sad, but if he couldn’t enjoy his kindergarten, I would be more sad. As I mentioned, he stayed for a year longer at home than other children, so I enjoyed the time a lot with him.
    This time last year he used to say that he didn’t want to go to kindergarten without me and cried, but now he gets into his schoolbus cheerfully and enjoys his kindergarten. So I think I made the right decision last year.



  15. Biwa on Thursday April 11th, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    Hi Anne,

    Thank you for the link. As you wrote, I think his idea of correlating plane crashes and cultural/linguistic difference really briliant. I was quite relieved that it wasn’t about a Japanese airline company because I’m sure that Japan is one of those high PDI countries which means we tend to use mitigated expressions when we talk to seniors or superiors.
    Also, for people who have been working in the rice paddies saying “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.” or “If a man works hard, the land will not be lazy.” for ages, it wouldn’t be that easy to suddenly change their minds and go home right after the finishing bell rings. I certainly think the real problem why many Asian countries (including Japan!) cannot reduce working hours lies around here. It seems meaningless to just focus on ‘good work-life-balance’ for these people(or maybe I should say ‘us’) because they have been thinking that the longer you work, the richer you get from generation to generation.

    Hi Kattie and YU,

    Thanks, I didn’t know either Chirac’s story or the imperial family’s story. Anyway, the way the IOC chooses the hosting country seems a bit fishy because the bidding countries host them a lot! It doesn’t look sportsmanlike from the beginning!



  16. amo on Thursday April 11th, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    To tell the truth, I am not that interested in this issue. I do enjoy watching the Olympics but I don’t care what county host the Olympics. I’d rather to say that I don’t want the Olympics to be held in Japan.

    As others said, Tokyo has spent a huge amount of money already, and I don’t want to think that our tax money has been used for nothing. So I should hope Tokyo will be chosen this time. But I can’t help thinking that it won’t happen.

    Hi Biwa,

    >the way the IOC chooses the hosting country seems a bit fishy because the bidding countries host them a lot! It doesn’t look sportsmanlike from the beginning!

    I totally agree with you, so maybe countries take turns hosting the Olympics. I know it’s a wishful thinking 🙁

    Hi everyone,

    As I mentioned before, I took a day off yesterday. I went to the ENT doctor to get the result of a blood test which I took a couple of weeks ago. The doctor said that I have an allergy to Japanese cedar. I always felt sorry for those people who suffering hay fever this time of the year but now I am one of them!! Since I have been taking the medication, I always feel sleepy and don’t want to do anything but sleep. I really don’t like this situation at all.

    Good night and sweet dreams,
    amo



  17. Kattie on Friday April 12th, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    Hi Biwa and everyone,

    > Anyway, the way the IOC chooses the hosting country seems a bit fishy because the bidding countries host them a lot! It doesn’t look sportsmanlike from the beginning!

    I agree too!



  18. Anne on Friday April 12th, 2013 at 06:47 AM

    correction:
    >when the Tokyo Olympic was held in 1964.
    —when the Tokyo Olympics was held in 1964.

    Hi Kattie and everyone,
    I remember Chirac said ‘something’ wrong but didn’t know what he had said.
    As Biwa said, lobbying is very important other than how IOC members evaluate each country’s report.
    Tokyo has already spent huge amount of money, so I hope Tokyo will win the race.

    Hi Biwa,
    >I certainly think the real problem why many Asian countries (including Japan!) cannot reduce working hours lies around here—I couldn’t agree with you more! Actually, I didn’t think that way when I first read this chapter a couple of years go.
    I also found the following part interesting:
    “Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.”

    Anne



  19. YU on Friday April 12th, 2013 at 08:36 AM

    Hi David, Anne and Biwa,

    Your talk about “Outliers” make me curious day by day!
    Actually I asked my city library to place it on hold yesterday. Unfortunately(?), they have only the Japanese edition, though…
    Anyway, it is very unusual for me to read books!
    You motivated me, you’re great! hahaha!



  20. Biwa on Friday April 12th, 2013 at 09:40 AM

    Hi YU,

    That’s good to hear! It would be really nice if we can talk about the books we read all together.

    Hi Anne,

    I do remember that part! I really think so, and I often notice that little children have that persistance by nature. However, for some reason, some of them start losing it while they grow up, and I am suspecting that it must have a lot to do with the attitudes of the adults around them. I think it’s quite scary.

    Hi amo,

    Really, a lot of my friends suffer hay fever. I forgot the name, but they say that there is a thing that you hang around your neck, it looks like a card-holder(定期入れ), and shuts away the pollen, and it seems to really work.(よく効くみたいです)You can also put it near your pillow when you go to bed. I think you can get one at the drug store. (騙されたと思って試してみてください。笑)



  21. Biwa on Friday April 12th, 2013 at 03:08 PM

    Hi Anne,

    Sorry, I noticed that I’ve misspelled ‘persistence’. ‘Persistence’ and ‘persistance’, really confusing! 🙁



  22. Biwa on Friday April 12th, 2013 at 03:14 PM

    Maybe I should say “I realized that~~~”, because I actually went through a looking-up-the-dictionary process this time.