By Kwiyeon Ha
TOKYO (Reuters) – As Tokyo celebrated one year to go until the 2020 Olympics on Wednesday, at least 100 people gathered in the Japanese capital to protest the hosting of the Games.
Participants in the demonstration included a small number from Paris and Los Angeles, Olympic hosts in 2024 and 2028 respectively.
Protestors argue that the Olympics should be banned across the world because it contributes to poverty and harms the environment.
“I want to strongly appeal that the Olympics should be banned not only in Tokyo but everywhere, and it is unnecessary for the global citizens,” said protestor Toshio Miyazaki.
Organisers said there were between 150-200 people at the protest but the numbers looked closer to 100.
“It is important for us, who are opposed to the Olympics in 2024, to come here today to this international meeting against the Olympics Games,” said Danielle Simonnet, a Parisian politician in Tokyo for the protest.
“We want to show our solidarity with the Japanese who are against 2020 and the our friends from Los Angeles who are against 2028.”
On Tuesday, protest leaders told a news conference that the Olympics harmed vulnerable groups and argued that the money spent on the Games would be better used elsewhere.
The latest budget figures for Tokyo 2020, released in December 2018, put the total cost of the Games at $12.6 billion (£10.1 billion), well above their original estimate at under $7 billion.
The Japanese government has been criticised for allowing the cost of the Olympics to rise while people in the area devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami are still struggling.
“To return to Tokyo afterward and see all the money plunged into the Olympics while people still suffer in Fukushima was mind-blowing for me,” former athlete and academic Jules Boykoff said on Tuesday after returning from the area.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike last week defended the cost of hosting the Games, saying the Paralympics in particular would build a legacy by creating better accessibility for Japan’s rapidly aging society.
The Olympic Games run from July 24 – Aug. 9 next year.
(Reporting by Kwiyeon Ha; writing by Jack Tarrant; editing by Christian Radnedge)