Olympics, International Olympic Committee, Tokyo discussed on Democracy Now! Audio


Police repression and brutality. This comes as over 400 politicians intellectuals clergy members artists activists and former heads of state are calling on Biden to immediately lift the 243 sanctions the Trump administration imposed on Cuba. The group which includes former Brazilian president Luis and osteo Lula da Silva Noam Chomsky and Cornell west printed a full page ad in today's New York Times headlined let Cuba live. Congress member and congressional black caucus web Hank Johnson was arrested Thursday. Alongside prominent African American voting rights advocates as they protested ongoing attacks on democracy in front of a Senate building. Harvard professor former president Cornell William Brooks black Hooters matter cofounder cliff albright and color of change president Rashad Robinson were also among the arrested. Before their arrest the men were joined by other activists in black Congress members on the steps of the Supreme Court where they called for abolishing the filibuster and for senators to pass the for the people act. This is Rashad Robinson speaking yesterday. We have nothing to us and ask us for our vote by day. And stay silent where they take away our power by night. We will not go back and I want to say that there were no good old days. There is only a path forward. There is only a path forward with all of us being able to be heard. Come on. Recognize invisible. In India over 200 farmers lit a protest near the parliament in New Delhi Thursday. Marking some 8 months of resistance against three pro corporate agricultural laws enacted by prime minister Narendra Modi. Farmers are continuing to pressure Modi's government to repeal the laws which deregulate agricultural markets and roll back key labor and income protections. Millions of farmers and opponents of the reforms have staged multiple strikes across India since at least last November. Agriculture is the leading source of income from more than half of India's 1.3 billion population. In South Africa the death toll in recent anti government protests has risen to at least 337 people. Thousands of others have been arrested. The demonstrations erupted after former president Jacob Zuma began his 15 month jail sentence for refusing to testify in a corruption probe. They've since focused on grinding poverty and record levels of unemployment exacerbated by the pandemic. At least 20 refugees are presumed to have drowned off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea Wednesday. This week alone the Libyan coast guard has intercepted 7 vessels and apprehended hundreds of refugees including children as they attempt to reach Europe for safety. I'm mister international reports that in the first half of this year over 7000 refugees have been apprehended and forcibly returned to prison camps in Libya. Meanwhile the number of refugees who've died while attempting to reach European soil by sea has more than doubled compared to the first 6 months of 2020. So far this year over a thousand. Hundred people have perished. The Pentagon says it launched overnight air strikes against Taliban targets and Kandahar Afghanistan Thursday. U.S. officials say they'll continue to conduct air strikes until they complete their withdrawal at the end of August and that most of the recent strikes in Afghanistan come from unmanned drones. In related news the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday to provide 8000 more special visas for Afghans who worked as interpreters contractors and security personnel for the U.S. during its occupation. The visas will also cover their families. The Senate armed services committee voted to increase The Pentagon budget by $25 billion above President Biden's request and a move likely to face opposition from progressive Democrats who are seeking to cut military spending. Activists gathered in front of the cultural attache office for the United Arab Emirates in Washington D.C. Thursday to protest the planned rendition of former Guantanamo prisoner revealing back to Russia. He's currently being held in a UAE prison. After being released from Guantanamo Bay in 2017 where he was held without charge for over 15 years. Advocates say 17 other former Guantanamo prisoners now locked up in the UAE under inhumane conditions. This is Helen qinger of witness against torture. They've been tortured. This man will live with that for the rest of their lives. We are the reparations we need to make sure that they are in good situations and continue to follow them and support them in attempting to make the rest of their lives. Fulfilled. 40 labor healthcare and other advocacy groups are calling on President Biden to invoke the defense production act to halt the shutdown of the largest U.S. generic drugs plant at the end of this month. 1500 people are in the verge of losing their jobs at via Trish nylons pharmaceuticals plant in West Virginia which will start outsourcing its manufacturing to India. The groups say the move will leave the U.S. with virtually no domestic production of generic pharmaceuticals threatening the supply chain for essential drugs. The House committee on financial services held one of its first hearings on public banking this week New York Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who last year introduced the public banking act with Congress member Rashida Tlaib said public banks would help support local economies and infrastructure and help combat inequality and structural racism in the banking industry. But most states and cities have to rely on commercial banks because there's no public option. This is De Niro Del Rio from the new economy project testifying at Wednesday's hearing. A public bank would be chartered to serve the public good and it would remove the profit seeking shareholders from the equation and allow for other benefits other than maximizing problems. And on public banks ostensibly wouldn't have you know billionaire CEOs that are paid hundreds or thousands. Times the amount that their lowest employees are made. Is that correct? Yes that's certainly our vision for public banking. And UNESCO's World Heritage committee has decided not to list or designate Australia's Great Barrier Reef as being in danger. Australia has been feverishly lobbying to avoid the label which we would have meant the site is at risk of losing its World Heritage status extreme ocean temperatures due to the climate crisis have caused the reef to degrade including extensive coral bleaching. UNESCO's decision will be reconsidered in 2022. And those are some of the headlines this is democracy now democracy now dot org the war and peace report. I'm Amy Goodman. We begin today's show in Tokyo Japan where protesters have gathered outside the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has pushed forward with holding the games during the pandemic despite widespread opposition in Japan. Polls show at least 70% of the population wanted the games canceled or postponed as COVID cases surge. At least a 110 people linked to the games have tested positive for COVID so far. The opening ceremony is being held in Tokyo's national stadium but the 80,000 seat arena built for this purpose is largely empty. Fewer than 1000 VIP guests have been invited to attend. Spectators have also been barred from sporting events throughout the games. The 2020 Olympic Games were originally scheduled to take place a year ago but were postponed due to the pandemic. We go now directly to the protests just outside Tokyo's national stadium where we're joined by satoko itani associate Professor of sports gender and sexuality at kansai university. Attorney welcome back to democracy now. Can you start by just setting the scene for us? Describe where you are and what these protests are about. I hope you guys see on me. Right outside of the Olympic training where the opening thing is. You got to be able to interview the people in a press release. And one. Is happening. About 20%. So this is a very scary moment. We're going to come back to you. We're having trouble hearing you because of the chance and the protests right behind you. So as you relocate yourself we're going to go right now. To Jules boycott author of four books on the Olympics who's played for the U.S. Olympic soccer team from 1989 to 91. His latest piece for the nation with Dave zirin is headlined the human cost of the pandemic Olympics. LA times opinion piece this week is headlined Tokyo's Olympics have turned nightmarish LA are you watching? So we'll talk about the future games in LA. But I mean what's happening here is truly astounding jewels. You have Japan itself. Even the leadership opposed including the prime minister to these Olympics. And yet you have what we now understand is this large multinational corporation the international Olympic Committee that actually can control what prime ministers and governments. Do and allow to happen. And they've required that these Olympics continue even if the stadium are empty. That's exactly right. What we're witnessing right now play out in Tokyo is unparalleled in the political history of the Olympics. And you're pointing the finger in the right direction when we think about the International Olympic Committee the saga in Tokyo has exposed an International Olympic Committee that openly disrespects the will of locals that brushes off inconvenient facts from experts like medical experts who've long been saying these games are a terrible idea. And the IOC tends to prioritize its profits over all else. Meanwhile the Olympics tend to kneecap democracy undercut democracy in ways that you describe with the very prime minister essentially reduced to a contractual supplicant of the International Olympic Committee with no power to decide whether to cancel or not. And you're seeing also that everything is very vulnerable to things like COVID-19 and also I think climate change. So when the International Olympic Committee arrives in the host city it's this para state type organization. But what we've seen time and time again and now in Technicolor in Tokyo is that it's also a parasite on the host city. So explain all that has taken place. I mean first of all people might be surprised these are even called Olympics 2020 when it's 2021. And all the skirmishes until this point I mean this week the head of the Tokyo Olympics committee said at any moment we can cancel these. But in fact that's not true right? That's correct. In Tokyo 2020 has actually been a cascade of calamities from the beginning. If we go back to 2013 when Tokyo was initially awarded the games by the International Olympic Committee then prime minister Shinzo Abe stood in front of the International Olympic Committee and said that in Fukushima things were under control. This is part of the double lie that's the foundation of the Tokyo Olympics. If you are a self respecting biologist or scientist in Fukushima at that time in 2013 you knew things were very much not under control. After all the triple whammy earthquake tsunami and nuclear meltdown of March 2011 was still playing out in the prefecture. So that was the first lie. The second lie is that they started to call these Olympics the recovery games arguing that by hosting the Olympics it would actually help Fukushima and the other affected regions recover from the triple whammy disaster. Well when Dave's iron and I went to Fukushima in July 2019 and we talked to journalists we talked to elected officials. We talked to people on the ground in Fukushima. They said that that recovery games mantra was absolutely annoying and in fact offensive to them because they told us how the cranes and other items that would help them recover in Fukushima were actually being transferred to Tokyo. And even since then it's just been one debacle after the another. The cost of the Tokyo Olympics for example have skyrocketed in the bid documents. It was supposed to cost $7.3 billion. Today it stands closer to $30 billion about more than four times the original price tag. You've also got the militarization of the public's fear. If you look at the Olympic Stadium where the activists are coming to us from today it looks like some sort of demilitarized zone with huge fences that prevent everyday people from getting even close to the stadium. And so what we've seen in Tokyo is in a lot of ways a nice example powerful example. And you know of what happens with the Olympics when political elites have them come to your city. It disrupts everything and there are long-term problems that come with it. So we're going to talk about some of the amazing athletes some who have pulled out. But before we do that we're going to try to toko a tani again. This is the beauty and power and you know who knows what happens nature of live television. But so Tokyo itani you are right at the protest outside the Olympic Stadium built for over 70,000 people but it will be a fraction of that. Less than a thousand will be inside including the First Lady of the United States doctor Joe Biden. But talk about why so many are where you are outside protesting these Olympics. We didn't hear what you said the first time though we did hear the chance. Hi Amy. Sorry about that. I hope you can hear me now. Perfectly. All right. So the people have been frustrated actually ever since the awarding of the Olympics in 2013 because it was only two and a half years after the disaster. And since then with the new liberal policies people's lives are getting harder and harder. And when it comes to the Olympics it seems like there are and the rest of these money that they can pour into. But also the past years since the beginning of the pandemic we are told to not go outside. The restaurants are forced to close. And we are told that we can not get PCR testing because the results are in the false positives that are not good for controlling the virus. But in the year when you look at the Olympics you know the tens of thousands of delegates are coming into Japan and many of them are not even staying in the product app. Following through the quarantine rules even the Thomas Bach he went to Hiroshima only three days over the quarantine. And the hit Baku Shah had been very hungry about this and I do not use the Olympics. To peaceful and do not use the Hiroshima to please watch the Olympics. And also the PCR testing part if they are going to test the Olympic athletes every day to keep it safe. Why didn't they why they didn't provide that to the Japanese people? I haven't gotten even the one PCL test over the past year in half. So Tokyo thani can you talk about Toyota? Spent a $1 billion to promote the games now has removed all Olympic related commercials meaning commercials that include the Olympics that are so often played through the games because of their embarrassment. That this is moving forward and apparently the head of Toyota said these games shouldn't be moving forward. Right. I mean as you mentioned on the vast majority of Japanese people don't want this games and people are seriously really concerned about their own lives. And if you look at the sponsors making a lot of money off of this game that people's lives might be at risk. It is really damaging damaging imagery. So this is quite a historic that the Olympic sponsors association was the Olympics is a negative. What are your biggest concerns with the Olympic athletes? I mean at this point we see something like over a hundred have tested positive coming in from all over the world not just athletes but staff and those numbers only increase. A number of other athletes actually have just quit saying they can't deal with the pressure and the isolation. But talk about what people are asking for instead. Well a lot of people that I speak to here especially the ones protect processing are asking for the cancellation immediately. And as soon as possible because the bubble that they say you know even working as you just mentioned over a hundred cases now so athletes and visitors are not protected and the public. People here are also not protected. And what's really concerning is that the number of the new infection is going up quite rapidly largely due to the delta variants coming in but because of the Olympic is happening the government has been really failed to stop that coming into Japan. So we are from the. Sorry. The researchers are warning that they will be over 3000 cases in Tokyo alone. Every daily within maybe a few weeks. And yeah this is really really serious situation. And the hospital is already strained. Can you talk about the hospitals and also marginalized communities like the LGBTQ+ community and how they're affected and how many people are vaccinated? What percentage of the people of Japan have access to vaccines? So. We started to hear the reports from the hospitals that their beds are starting to fill up and they are actually thousands of cases of thousands of people waiting to be hospitalized. This means that their situation although their condition is worsening fast and they should be hospitalized but they can not find the hospital best to go into. And just about 23% of Japanese people are the residents of Japan have been fully vaccinated. So 80% of people are not. Which brings us back to Jules boykoff with this mass protest happening even the highest levels of Japanese government not wanting to this to go forward. But basically IOC says the deal is a deal. Talk about how much money they make off these Olympics NBC payday fortune for running the Olympics over the years. They will broadcast not clear what they will show of the stadiums since their very few people outside of the athlete's performing. That's right there is a lot of money sloshing through the Olympic system. It just tends to slash upwards into pockets that are already filled. NBC gives about 40% of the international Olympic committees revenues and overall in terms of the Olympics 73% of the revenues for the International Olympic Committee come from broadcaster fees. And I think that helps explain why they're perfectly content to have a made for TV event without all those people in the stands. Of course they prefer to have them in the stands. But even if they don't the money continues to flow into their coffers. NBC has announced that even though these games are hit with the pandemic and people won't be in the seats. This could well be the most profitable Olympics ever for NBC because of ad sales and other measures. The corporate sponsors provide another 18% of the revenues for the International Olympic Committee. And I think we're seeing a really interesting divide between the corporate sponsors right now on one hand the sort of long-term worldwide partners that fork over these 9 figure fees to be associated with the 5 rings. They're basically playing the long game with the exception of Toyota which is of course has strong base in Japan. The local sponsors domestic sponsors by which by the way they raised more than $3 billion from local corporate sponsors in Japan more than ever before. They're in a much trickier position and I think that's why you're seeing Toyota. Basically say out loud that the Olympics have become a toxic property inside of Japan. So there's plenty of money to be had. It just tends to shuffle to the International Olympic Committee to broadcasters to the corporate partners as well as to real estate interest in the Olympic city. Let's see I think NBC has paid something like 7.7 $1 billion to air the Olympics through 2032. Jules boycott I mean you played in the Olympics years ago. Let's talk about some of the people who have pulled out. Like the two time U.S. Paralympic swimmer Beckham Myers who's won three gold medals two silvers and a bronze. But she announced Tuesday she's withdrawn from the Tokyo 2020 paralympics. After being denied an essential medical accommodation. Myers was born deaf with progressive sight law student. And an emotional opinion piece for USA Today she wrote quote since 2017 the United States Olympic and Paralympic committee has approved the use of a personal care assistant whom I know and trust to be with me at international swim mates because of my disabilities. But not this year. What happens if there is an emergency in the middle of the night? What if we need to be moved from one venue to another quickly? Masks and distancing have made it incredibly difficult for me to make out what people are doing or saying. If I don't have someone I can trust how can I trust that I will be safe Myers wrote? She spoke on CNN about her decision. I'm heartbroken. I can't even put it into words. I haven't been sleeping well. I haven't been eating. It's just tore me apart swimming is a part of who I am. It's given me identity as a person. I've always been known inspected the swimmer. Now not Becca the deaf blind person and now I feel very worthless as a person. And for someone who's trained for 5 years for this moment especially in extra year with the pandemic it's just makes it all seem like it was for nothing. So that's Beckham Irish speaking on CNN. She's blind she can not hear. She was going with her mother who has been her personal assistant but they said no that there was personal assistance there something like for a couple dozen people only one something of course that would not be adequate for her. So she has pulled out Jules. Can you tell us more? And also the role of the paralympics. They're not going to be broadcast by NBC live during this time is that right? Well so first let me just say Amy that while I did play soccer for the U 23 national team in the United States also known as the Olympic team. I did not actually participate in the Olympics so I just want to be clear about that. But you know the IOC the International Olympic Committee has been saying over and over again as if repeating this mantra could make it true that the games are supposed to be safe and secure at every turn they said these games will be safe and secure. Well if they're so safe and secure then why are we seeing all these cases even inside the Olympic bubble which as it tawny just pointed out it's already been punctured if the games are so safe and secure why are athletes being forced to sign a waiver that states that if they die of coronavirus or from heat stroke that they can not hold the Olympic organizers liable if these games are so safe and secure then why did the New England Journal of Medicine come out with an editorial that just excoriated the International Olympic Committee for its preparations for the COVID-19 crisis in Tokyo? They said that they were not putting forth best scientific practices. They don't even provide masks to the people that are going to Tokyo. So it's a by OM situation of bring your own mask situation. The International Olympic Committee likes to talk about how athletes are first. That's one of their mantras also same with the international Paralympic committee. But when you hear the case of Becca Meyers my goodness how poignant that is it's just so heartbreaking and it's hard to take that slogan athletes first very seriously when you hear that. And one last point on the athletes if I may say a really important study came out recently from Ryerson university that compared the percentage of revenues that Olympians get compared to athletes from other sports like the National Basketball Association. The National Football League the English Premier League of football in over in the UK. And what they found in that study was with those other leagues those other professional leagues the athletes took in between 45 and 60% of the revenues with the Olympics Olympians only taken 4.1% of the revenues. 4.1% compared to 45 to 60%. So Olympians aren't even getting a fair share of the Olympic money pie. And that very much has to change. And one exciting thing is that we're seeing athletes around the world begin to really come together and organize around these issues and support each other. Groups like global athlete an athlete led group that's out there fighting for justice groups like VFX association in track and field. Groups like the newly formed international swimmers alliance they're realizing that if athletes want to get more of a fair shake at the games that they need to come together and organize independent of the Olympic honchos. And just to say the paralympics actually take place not right now but from August 24th. Until September 5th. I want to ask you about the Spanish Olympic swimmer on a carbonyl who has criticized the Olympic Committee for imposing rules that made it clearly impossible for her to continue breastfeeding her child while at the Olympics on Wednesday. She released a video expressing her disappointment and disillusionment after she decided. She can not bring her breastfeeding son to Tokyo while she competes. So I had to take a very tough decision together with my team who's been helping me a lot with my family because the Japanese government's impositions are not compatible with my athletic performance and being with my family at the same time. Jules boycott. Again another heart wrenching story that we're hearing out of the Olympic zone. And basically she was forced to choose between her family and her Olympic dream. The International Olympic Committee did loosen its rules after a lot of pressure from these organized athletes that I was talking about at the end of June they said that mothers who are nursing could continue to do so during the Olympics but under very strict conditions where the baby would be kept in a hotel a far away from the Olympic zone. And the athlete that you were just talking about own a carbonyl said that this would actually be more dangerous. I mean if she had a travel to a hotel where the baby would be for 20 days in quarantine and then traveled back into the Olympic village best again just not best scientific practices. And I think it just points to the fact that the International Olympic Committee is making athletes take terrible choices out there very heart wrenching choices and.

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