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Russia Unhappy With Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Plans

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Ambassadors Tadahiro Nomura, Aki Taguchi, Satomi Ishihara, Mikio Date and Takeshi Tomizawa pose for photos with the media during an event held to mark 300 days before the torch relay kicks off, on June 1, 2019, in Tokyo. The 121-day relay will begin on March 16, 2020 at the J-Village in Fukushima, a date coinciding with the cherry blossom season in Japan. The timing also inspired the design of the torch. Photo: VCG

By Evan Weiner |

Russia thinks Japan is politicizing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics have been politicized since the Greeks founded the Games around 776 BC. Russia is miffed because Tokyo Olympics organizers have decided to have the Olympics torch relay go through the Kuril Islands. The islands have been claimed by Russia and Japan and the two nations have disputed the island ownership since the end of World War II in 1945. Japan’s official Olympics website map not only includes the Kuril Islands but an island that belongs to South Korea, Liancourt Rocks. The map disputes are nothing compared with events that really did politicize the Olympics.

In 1904, Olympics organizers sanctioned what was known as the Anthropology Days, a two day event in St. Louis were so-called uncivilized tribes competed in the Olympic events of the day. In 1936, Germany hosted the event and the games became to be known as the Hitler Olympics. The 1940 and 1944 Olympics never took place because of World War II. South Africa was tossed from the Olympics movement in 1964 because of apartheid policies. There was the Munich Massacre in 1972 when nine Israeli athletes and two Israeli coaches were killed in a terrorist attack. There was an African countries boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games. The United States led a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games when US President Jimmy Carter tried to pressure the Soviet Union to get out of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union refused to send a team to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and got Warsaw Pact nations to following its lead. The awarding of the event has become politicized. Countries have rejected hosting the Games as voters have said no because of cost. The IOC has permanent observer status at the UN. Politics and the Olympics is nothing new.

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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