The 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally raised its curtain on July 23. This international festival began after overcoming pandemic uncertainty. The Tokyo Olympics was controversial for many issues. One of the prime examples of controversy was the territorial dispute involving Dokdo being marked as Japanese territory.
In July 2019, it was reported that the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Organizing Committee’s website had marked Dokdo Island and the Kuril Islands as its territory on the map of the Japanese Archipelago. This map was originally for the introduction of the torch relay but brought controversy after it was revealed that Dokdo Island of Korea and the four Kuril Islands, which are currently in dispute with Russia, were included as if they were Japanese territory. In May 2021, the controversy accelerated when it was discovered that a changed map still included Dokdo Island – it was marked so small that it could not be seen with naked eyes. Afterward, the governments of Korea and Russia strongly criticized the Japanese government for using the Olympics as a political tool in territorial disputes and urged for immediate revision, but the criticism was not accepted.
However, this controversy also exposed the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s duplicity. Although there were many protests against the notation issue of the Japanese map, the IOC remained silent. This is clearly in contrast with the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. At that time, the Japanese government objected to the Korean Unification Flag, saying that the inclusion of Dokdo Island was inappropriate. The IOC accepted and immediately demanded its removal, mentioning that it undermines political neutrality.
The IOC, which emphasized political neutrality, showed a completely different attitude regarding this case. It showed a contradictory stance by stating, “Deal with the Japanese government about the Dokdo notation issue”, which clearly shows that the IOC has no will to intervene. The IOC’s duplicity deepened as the head of Olympic Solidarity said that the designation of Dokdo Island was merely a geopolitical indication and had nothing to do with political propaganda. Is the IOC’s ‘political neutrality’ just hypocrisy that changes its standards every time?