Two Games, two evictions

 
Mr Jinno, at his shop in the Kasumigaoka apartment complex near the National Olympic Stadium, showing a photo of himself (second from left) taken on Jan 2, 1957, in front of his previous home. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO - Mr Kohei Jinno fans out the black and white photos of his family posing proudly in front of their central Tokyo home, a house they were forced to leave ahead of the 1964 Olympic Games to make way for construction of the main stadium.

Now Mr Jinno, 79, has to move again.

The public housing complex where he and his wife live, close to the stadium and the site of his former home - currently a parking lot - is slated to be destroyed as part of construction of a new stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

"Fate has not been kind to me. It may be great fortune for the nation, but having to leave this place fills me with sadness," he said. "I just feel that had it not been for the Olympics, my life would have been so different."

The current National Olympic Stadium, which holds an almost iconic place in Japanese hearts for being the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1964 Games, when Japan became the first Asian nation to host the Olympics, is set to be demolished next year.

Its replacement, a futuristic spaceship-like venue by Ms Zaha Hadid, who designed the aquatics centre for the London 2012 Games, will have 80,000 seats compared to the current 50,000.

Ahead of the 1964 Olympics, Mr Jinno and about 100 others were forced to move. His job gone, he was forced to wash cars to make ends meet, living in a tiny room with his wife and two children. In 1965, he moved into the municipal housing complex and was eventually able to reopen a tobacconist's he ran before the eviction. He still runs it today.

Mr Jinno has no idea where he will move, or when. He said 200 families in the same complex, most of them elderly, face the same dilemma.

"I wish they wouldn't have the Olympics in Tokyo again," he said.

"I can bear getting evicted if it's just the once in a lifetime. But twice? It's ridiculous."

REUTERS