Protect Yoyogi Park: Stop the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Live Site Project!

Protect Yoyogi Park: Stop the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Live Site Project!

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Rochelle Kopp started this petition to 五輪担当大相 丸川珠代 and

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Photo by Mao KAWAGUCHI

Protect Yoyogi Park: Stop the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Live Site Project!

The Tokyo Olympics are threatening to damage Tokyo’s natural beauty – specifically, the trees of Yoyogi Park.

The International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games are planning to push ahead with holding the Tokyo Olympics despite the many calls from the public for cancellation.

And 35 trees in Tokyo’s beautiful and beloved Yoyogi Park are about to be butchered for the sake of building yet another venue for these unwanted Olympics.

The Tokyo 2020 Live Site Project is planned as a series of public viewing venues at locations around Tokyo, each consisting of a large stage with a huge screen, surrounded by souvenir kiosks and display spaces for sponsors. And the plan is for one of them to be plunked down smack dab in the middle of one of Yoyogi Park’s normally peaceful meadows. The plans state that the venue will be built to "accommodate a wide range of spectators, not only from Tokyo but also from Japan and overseas.” Based on projections made prior to the pandemic, the venue is designed to attract 35,000 visitors per day.

The original plan can be seen here: https://www.2020games.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/38e028650a9c1f9ce276e346bb2cf542_3.pdf

One would think that, given we are in the midst of a pandemic, building a venue specifically designed to gather large numbers of people would be completely out of the question. However, the decision has been made to push forward with the construction as originally planned, albeit with a veneer of anti-infection measures such as plenty of hand sanitizer.

The plan to continue with the creation and operation of the Tokyo 2020 Live Site Project despite the spread of the coronavirus can be seen here: https://www.2020games.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/1876511360500769003669f8181c6234_2.pdf

Notices currently posted in the park indicate that 35 trees deemed to interfere with the project are going to have limbs below 8 meters trimmed off. Such drastic pruning will significantly impact the trees, changing their shape and destroying their beauty.  

The senselessness is sickening.

First of all, in the midst of coronavirus infection spread fueled by dangerous new variants, and against the backdrop of a painfully slow vaccination rollout in Japan, the whole idea of creating a public viewing venue and gathering thousands of people there is patently unwise. And given the drastic reduction in the number of people from overseas who will be visiting Japan during the Olympics, and the tight restrictions being imposed on those who do come, a public viewing site of this type is no longer needed.

Second, why is it necessary to permanently alter the silhouettes of numerous trees for the sake of a temporary event slated to last just a few weeks?

In normal times, this plan might have been tolerable. But we are in the middle of a pandemic. The country is trying to control the spread of infection. Why actively create a place to gather thousands of people, where crowding and density will surely occur, at a time like this?

Moreover, the implementation plan for the Tokyo 2020 Live Site suggests that it is being built "for the people.” Here is an excerpt: "In order to overcome the coronavirus and to conduct the Games with the sympathy of the people of Tokyo and the nation, it is important to have the Live Site as an activity of the city.” That’s a word salad of platitudes rather than a true justification.

The public will not sympathize with a plan that goes out of its way to create densely crowded conditions. And the trees which are so important for the people of Tokyo’s relaxation and enjoyment should not have to have their beautiful limbs lopped off for this dubious purpose.

The construction of Tokyo 2020 Live Site will start on June 1. The trees to be pruned have already been marked. There is no time to lose.

There has already been an outcry about this plan on Twitter, with thousands of likes and retweets.

We resolutely oppose the construction of the Tokyo 2020 Live Site and the destruction of nature that will accompany it, and demand that it be stopped.

Each and every signature in support of this petition will help protect Yoyogi Park’s green spaces, and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Thanks so much for your support.

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At 200,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!