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Japan’s new Olympic experiment is a risky mistake

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Just how high a price are the citizens of Japan willing to pay for the privilege of hosting the Olympics? That question is getting a partial answer this month as a series of baseball games are being hosted — with government approval — in crowded stadiums.

Various measures to protect spectators are being tested out, including smartphone apps that issue warnings about which parts of a stadium are crowded at any given moment.

But if these measures fail, Japanese citizens will be left to manage the aftereffects of a possible super-spreader event — and to wonder why the government would ever undertake such a costly experiment.

Hosting the Olympics is never cheap, of course. For many host cities, the most tangible legacy of the games is debt. Russian taxpayers will be spending an estimated $1.2 billion per year “for the foreseeable future” to cover the costs of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to one study.

But many governments are willing to accept such costs as a means of spurring economic development and raising the profile of local........

© The Japan Times

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