Guard Fox Watch
Bioregional activists in Japan, who provided an
alternative view of the Winter 1998 Olympics at Nagano.
Statement of Concern Regarding the Ecological Impact of the Nagano Winter Olympics
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
(Feb. 4, 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
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
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
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)