Despite all the positives, the Olympic Games also had incidents exposing Japan’s insensitivity toward diversity and inclusion issues. In addition to Mori’s misstep, other Japanese Olympic officials – all men middle-aged or older who have historically dominated the positions of power in the country – left their posts due to insensitive past behavior. These included talents behind the opening ceremony: The creative director resigned for inappropriate comments about a plus-size female entertainer, the music composer quit after admitting to bullying disabled children during his school days, and the director was fired the night before the show for making an anti-Semitic joke in a comedy routine 23 year ago.
With both positive and negative incidents surrounding the Games’ core concept of unity in diversity, beyond the anecdotal evidence, it is important to examine empirically how hosting the Tokyo Olympics might have affected local residents’ perceptions of diversity and inclusion.
We conducted online surveys in Tokyo to assess the social impact of the Olympic Games. The surveys, commissioned by the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Studies Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland, through its Advanced Olympic Research Grant Programme, were administered to 648 young people (aged 18-25) from the Tokyo Metropolis shortly before (mid-July) and after (early-to-mid-August) the Olympics. All respondents answered the same sets of survey questions for both the pre- and post-Games surveys, meaning that it is possible for us to examine how their responses changed due to their shared experience of hosting the Olympic Games as residents. By working with a local survey company, we ensured that our sample was proportional to the population in terms of gender (roughly 50 percent female) and included similar numbers of individuals from each target age.
In line with the definition of unity in diversity as reviewed earlier, the Miville-Guzman Universality-Diversity scale was used to assess individuals’ “attitude toward all other persons, which is inclusive yet differentiating in that similarities and differences are both recognized and accepted.” This 15-item scale is classified into three dimensions representing different aspects of an attitude toward diversity and inclusion: (1) Diversity of Contact, which refers to a person’s interest in taking part in diverse internationally focused cultural and social activities; (2) Relativistic Appreciation, which reflects one’s appreciation of both similar and different characteristics and backgrounds of other individuals; and (3) Comfort with Differences, which captures how comfortable an individual is with diverse persons differing in personal and cultural characteristics.
In the surveys, respondents were asked to answer each survey question using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”). After the data collection, we calculated the average values for respondents’ assessment of each of the three dimensions, so that 5 represents the most inclusive/positive attitude toward the dimension while 1 represents the least inclusive/positive attitude.