Professor Boykoff of the Pacific at the forefront of the movement against the Tokyo Summer Olympics
Jules Boykoff, director of the political and government department at the University of the Pacific, is not one to bury the ledge.
In an editorial from March 18, 2020 in The New York Times, under the heading “Cancel. The. Olympic. “Boykoff wrote,” For the sake of global public health, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be canceled. “
And, of course, they were. For one year. Now, delayed matches are scheduled to open in mostly empty stadiums and arenas in Tokyo on July 23.
They are moving forward despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is on the rise again in Japan, a strong majority of the Japanese public disapproves of the games being held, and prominent voices including influential newspaper Asahi Shimbun, asked the organizers to cancel them. Critics cite the pandemic, soaring costs, the extraordinary burdens on the host nation and the extravagant demands imposed by the International Olympic Committee, which seems determined to damn the torpedoes and head for the glitzy spectacle made for television.
Throughout the controversy, Boykoff has been everywhere. Once again this year, he was quoted or interviewed by the BBC, Reuters, the Sydney Morning Herald, the New York Times, NBC, Bloomberg, Time Magazine, The Voice of America, the Washington post, CNBC, the Irish time – in short, by all outlets looking for an informed review of the Olympics. Its May 11, 2021, New York Times The editorial is titled: “A sporting event shouldn’t be a super-broadcaster. Cancel the Olympics. “
When Boykoff is quoted, the quotes usually say something like “Jules Boykoff, professor at the University of the Pacific, expert in Olympic Games politics and author of four books on the Olympic Games”. The most recent book, NOlympians: in the fight against capitalist mega-sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo and beyond, was published last year by Fernwood Publishing.
Why he speaks
Boykoff honestly comes from his passion for the subject. He himself is a former Olympic football player, a fast winger who was inducted into the Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Fame. He says he approaches the Olympics from the bottom up, “unlike some people who tend to see them from the top down.”
“Tackling it from the bottom up means meeting and working with people who will probably never be able to afford a ticket to the Olympics,” he said.
Boykoff lived in London with his family in the lead up to and during the 2012 London Olympics, and he also lived in Rio de Janeiro as a Fulbright Fellow as that city prepared to host the 2016 Games.
“I saw with my own eyes how the Olympics affect ordinary people all over the city. I think what I’m doing to try to shed light on some of the negative externalities of the Olympics fits perfectly with Pacific’s mission, which is to seek justice in our world. ”
The Olympics are front and center this year, but Boykoff’s activism is Catholic. He has written or participated in protests on racial justice, climate change, homelessness, media studies and other topics. His Twitter feed (@JulesBoykoff) offers a window into the energy he brings to problems.
He is also a poet whose work has been published in multiple anthologies and chapbooks. His poem Commandment # 8 was named “Sexiest Poem of 2006” by CA Conrad, who described Boykoff’s work as displaying “fearlessness in the face of injustice”.
“Commandment # 3 being, do not covet your neighbor’s spiritual connections with his mighty icon of capitalism or you will smear your cattle tonic hopper with needlessly desperate animosity.”
– Extract Commandment # 8
“What I’m trying to do is hold the powerful accountable for their actions,” Boykoff said this week. “I think that’s one of the main things that drives me.”