Winter Olympic Action
Guard Fox Watch: 1998 Nagano Japan

Communiques 1998

Guard Fox Watch is bioregional activists in Japan, who provided an alternative view of the Winter 1998 Olympics at Nagano.

Guard Fox Watch Statement I, February 4, 1998

Statement of Concern Regarding the Ecological Impact of the Nagano Winter Olympics (Globalist Games)

The ecological impact of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Nagano has become an urgent concern of local residents, environmentally-conscious citizens of Japan, and a growing number of people throughout the world. The present measures for “coexistence with nature” do not remotely satisfy reasonable standards for protection against many threats to life systems posed by the Games. In addition, there are important priorities for long-term sustainability in the region that have not been addressed.

Land, highway and other development for staging the Games has already inflicted high ecological costs. Massive further damage will soon occur through sheer numbers of attendees at events which will adversely affect air, water, soil, and ecosystems in significant ways. Although they are only two weeks long in duration, the legacy of these last Winter Games before the 21st Century will be the greatest ecological disaster in Nagano’s bioregional history.

The theme of “Respect for the Beauty and Bounty of Nature” is an empty promise that totally fails to adequately address the seriousness of this situation. GUARD FOX WATCH will observe the negative impacts of the Games and assess their ecological damage. We will issue periodic warnings about particularly dangerous activities in order to prevent their reoccurrence, and provide ongoing reports over the two week period. We will also propose guidelines to avoid the negative impacts of future Olympics and other large sports events and suggest beneficial ways to create the means for future sustainability when they are held.

Nobody Wins the Games If Nature Loses!

Guard Fox Watch Committee

Guard Fox Watch Statement II, February 14, 1998

After one week of the Nagano Winter Games, it is obvious that some outrageous ecological impacts must be stopped immediately:

  1. Use of salt and other chemicals to clear ice and snow at event sites and to keep major roadways open 24 hours a day must cease at the present huge scale. There are many other means to effectively treat ice and snow that don’t involve such highly destructive consequences for ground water, rice field soil, and towns downstream.
  2. Trash burning at lodges, restaurants, and town garbage facilities must be forbidden for the remainder of the Games due to excessive air pollution such as presently occurs in Hakuba Valley and other places.
  3. Personal automobiles must be banned on the roads near event sites where they cause traffic jams with engines running up to half an hour that contribute significantly to acute current air pollution.
  4. “Recycling” bins at event sites actually recycle nothing in themselves but provide an inexpensive means to sort trash using audience assistance. One bin choice proudly announces “burnables” which eventually contribute to air pollution. Other choices (especially “plastic”) may not be sent to the most ecological recycling destinations. Recycling processes must be immediately disclosed, reviewed and modified.

GUARD FOX WATCH has established two main areas for determining ecological impacts that need to be assessed for future remediation, restoration and reparations for damages: a) natural systems of the Nagano Bioregion, and b) local human ecology.

Natural systems that are most obviously affected are:

  1. Water. Snow is handled with shovels and bulldozers but it isn’t dirt, it’s water. Snow melts into local soil, water drains and channels, eventually ending up in agricultural irrigation water and rivers. It carries along everything dropped on it including highway salt, snow-bonded auto exhaust chemicals and incidental wastes such as tire rubber, grease, antifreeze, and battery acid, as well as all forms of noxious litter thrown away by hundreds of thousands of people participating in the Games or attending them.
  2. Soil. Erosion from building 115 kilometers of new roads for the Winter Olympics will be extensive in the steep and geologically sensitive Nagano mountains.
  3. Ecosystems. Native plant and animal communities have been cut open with new roads and disrupted or destroyed by clearcutting forests and bulldozing land for construction. Animals are presently frightened away by night lighting and crowd noise during their most difficult survival season.

Human ecology impacts include:

  1. Economic displacement. Any employment of local people and increase in Nagano business attributable to the Games is temporary. Sufficient jobs in regionally sustainable industries are still lacking. Burdensome taxes incurred by roadbuilding and construction for the Games is inequitably assigned to Nagano residents alone.
  2. Garbage. Hakuba alone is slated to handle 87 metric tons of additional waste because of the Olympics (a figure that will undoubtedly be exceeded). Garbage burning is an inappropriate method of disposal even under ordinary conditions.
  3. Water supplies. Usual uses were vastly multiplied. Supplies are diverted for human use from native ecosystems.
  4. Energy. Increases in unsustainable fossil fuel energy use in. Air pollution by autos.

GUARD FOX WATCH recommendations for dealing with the devastating ecological aftermath of the Olympics for natural systems are to neutralize the roadside and watershed effects of chemical pollution, undertake thorough erosion monitoring and control, and restore and maintain native plant and animal communities. In order to repair damage to human ecology and create a sustainable future for Nagano, we urge shifting the costs of construction to organizers and sponsors of the Games, instituting genuine and thorough recycling programs, developing energy sources that are renewable rather than polluting fossil fuels or dangerous nuclear power, converting all water systems to recycle gray water, and awarding subsidies for new businesses and jobs to create these sustainable alternatives.

Nobody Wins The Games If Nature Loses!

—Kimiharu To (Japan)
—Peter Berg (North America)
Tel./fax 0261-23-7302


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