Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about resistance to the solicitation of “volunteers” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As stated at the beginning of the piece, the ostensible reason for the all-volunteer character of the staffing plan is to save money, since the volunteers will not be compensated. The once-in-a-lifetime experience of working for the games is thought to be compensation enough, and, for sure, Tokyo is shaping up to be the most expensive Olympics of all time by a large margin. For the most part, the organizers are trying to save money on infrastructure items–streamlining transportation and shifting construction costs to local governments and other participants. As mentioned, the organizing committee’s own budget has not been scrutinized and likely won’t be, which is why Ryu Honma, the freelance journalist who has been most vocal about the unfairness of the volunteer scheme, wants to look at it and how sponsors contribute to it.
Asahi Shimbun (which, for the record, is one of the sponsors) pointed to another area where savings could be made. In a Dec. 23 article, the newspaper talked about accommodations for the members of the International Olympic Committee during the games. As a matter of course, the IOC has demanded 1,600 rooms and suites for 33 nights, all at “4-star or 5-star hotels in Tokyo.” According to IOC rules, it is obligated to pay up to the equivalent of ¥44,000 a night per room for these accommodations, with any difference being covered by the local organizing committee. Luxury hotel rooms and suites in Tokyo cost upwards of ¥100,000 a night, and you can bet that all hotels in the capital will be charging premium prices while the games are going on. Among the “25 items” that the organizers have proposed to “reduce expenditures,” which the IOC is demanding, is to either “lower the grade of hotels” for the IOC, or have the IOC cover its own accommodation expenses. Of the 25 suggestions offered, this was the only one the IOC completely rejected.