BOSTON (CBS) – The Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are slated to kick off officially on Friday, a year later than planned due to the pandemic. But it’ll be over the objections of the vast majority of Japanese.
If a barrage of loud street protests against the games in recent days have seemed familiar, it’s with good reason – they bear an eerie resemblance to the backlash against plans to bring the 2024 Games to Boston.READ MORE: Kim Janey Endorses Michelle Wu In Boston Mayoral Race
Back in 2013/2014, then-Mayor Marty Walsh and local business elites were eager to bring the Games here, offering a proliferation of gauzy sketches and big promises, the same sort of promises of global stature and economic boost that sent the Japanese into a frenzy when they won their bid that same year.
But with COVID-induced restrictions guaranteeing Tokyo will lose billions on the spectator-less Games, after years of pre-COVID reluctance by other cities to stage them, we asked a key mover behind the No Boston Olympics movement what he makes of the Tokyo Olympic debacle.READ MORE: Lowell Family Closes On New Home Minutes Before Welcoming New Baby Girl
“This is just another in a long string of Olympic host cities that have gone over budget and realized that Olympic gold was not as valuable as they thought it was,” says Chris Dempsey, co-founded of No Boston Olympics. He notes that even before COVID, Tokyo was running five to 10 billion dollars over budget.
“These are public dollars that could be used for giving people in Japan vaccines, for improving their healthcare, for improving their education system,” he says. “And instead we’re seeing them spent on massive stadiums that don’t necessarily have a use after the Games. I’m glad that Massachusetts decided not to move in this direction.”
Since then, many other cities have followed Boston’s lead, shying away from Olympic bids. Cities in Germany, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland pulled their bids for next year’s Winter Games after backlash from their citizens.MORE NEWS: Massachusetts To Consider Allowing Supervised Drug-Use Sites In Virtual Hearing At Statehouse
And that has inspired Dempsey to consider taking his message of fiscal responsibility to a new level – he’s eyeing a run for state auditor next year.