With the Olympic Games set to kick off at the end of July, preparations for the Games are beginning in all sports, not just in swimming. In this series, SwimSwam looks at some of the leading news from outside of swimming as athletes prepare, or qualify, for the Olympic Games that are set to kick off in Tokyo on July 23rd.
Japanese Politician Calls for Cancellation of Olympic Games
In some of this week’s more notable Tokyo 2020 news, notable Japanese attorney and politician Kenji Utsunomiya organized an online petition titled “Stop Tokyo Olympics”. The petition quickly gained traction online, receiving 240,000 signatures since its creation.
Utsunomiya asserted that it is very possible that the Olympic Games could become a superspreader event, causing danger to the country’s healthcare workers, citizens, and athletes. According to him, the resources invested in the Games could be used to help the citizens of the country.
Utsunomiya has a strong following within Japan’s capital, having finished second in voting to serve as Tokyo’s mayor on three separate occasions: 2012, 2014, and 2020.
British Runner to Make Podium Statement
Adam Gemili, a sprinter who finished in 4th in the 200m at the 2016 Olympic Games, spoke out against the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban podium protests.
Like American swimmer Anthony Ervin, who feels that the Olympics is the opportunity for athletes to lead their country and world, Gemili said:
“We are protesting as the minority and the fact that they are trying to limit that goes against everything the Olympics says it stands for. I get sport has to be separate from politics. But this is more than politics; this is humanitarian and about decency – this is not political at all. It is so disappointing that if that moment comes, I am not allowed to really have a voice, to do anything.”
Gemili is a part of a minority in supporting podium protests, both across all global and British athletes. In a study done by the IOC, only 16% of athletes were in favor of allowing podium protests. While the number climbed to 36% of athletes not directly opposed among British athletes, he still remains firmly in the minority.
Australian Women’s Basketball Player Threatens Boycott
A member of the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA and member of the Australian national team member, Liz Cambage has threatened to boycott the Tokyo games following the Australian Olympic Committee’s (AOC) use of a ‘whitewashed’ photo as promotional material for the country’s team. Cambage spoke out following a social media post by Jockey Australia, who serves as the official underwear of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams.
While the AOC has since apologized and accepted blame for the promotional photos, Cambage has doubled down on her initial statement, suggesting she may not represent Australia this summer if she doesn’t see improvement.
As Camabage continues her stance on potentially boycotting the Games, the AOC has adjusted its constitution to encourage more inclusion within the AOC Athletes’ Commission. In the new constitution, at least one athlete of Aboriginal descent and one of Torres Strait Island descent will be included on the Commission at all times.