TRIBULATION IN TOKYO
As last week ended, with the Olympic Games of 1964 a mere 600 days or so away, Japan was searching frantically for someone to accept the presidency of its Olympic organizing committee. There were no eager candidates. If ever the head of an organization seems certain to lose face, including both ears, it will be this one. Preparation for the Games is not precisely proceeding apace.
"Regrettably," says Shojiro Kawashima, cabinet minister in charge of the Olympics, "Olympic preparations are behind in all aspects." Tokyo's Mainichi Shimbun editorialized: "At the rate preparations are moving, we must be gravely concerned."
Tokyo's traffic problem is the world's worst. Olympic road-building plans call for 22 access roads and four main highways totaling 73 miles to be built at a cost of $420 million. So far none of the roads are open and last year less than half the target deadlines for road construction were met. One reason is that Japan has no law enabling the government to acquire property by condemnation. Speculators bought up plots astride proposed rights of way and held out for exorbitant prices. Then there were 10,000 families who had to be moved to equivalent accommodations in land-short Tokyo. The 13-mile expressway from Haneda airport to downtown Tokyo was held up while fishermen demanded $91 million for the land on which they built their shacks and stored their nets.
Biggest problem of all is housing. The Japanese expect 30,000 visitors. In Tokyo and a 50-mile radius there are only 11,460 beds in Western-style hotels, 4,760 in suitable Japanese inns. Another 7,000 rooms are planned, leaving a staggering shortage of 7,000 beds. This takes no account of the thousands of Japanese who will flow into Tokyo for the Games, but no one is worrying about them. "The Japanese are used to a Spartan life," a hotel manager blandly explained.
Then there's the matter of tickets. The Japanese have decreed that no foreigner may buy a ticket until he can show proof of guaranteed housing. "It's a vicious circle," a despairing travel agent wailed. "Clients will not pay a 50% deposit on rooms unless they're sure of a ticket and the organizing committee says it won't sell tickets until rooms are paid for. Something will have to give."
Something like the new president, poor fellow. Chosen this week, he turned out to be Daigoro Yasukawa, utilities magnate. Asked why he took the job, he said somebody pushed him.
Since Lee MacPhail left the New York Yankees for the Baltimore Orioles in 1959 the fine Yankee farm system has been crumbling. In 1962 its seven teams posted a combined won-lost record of 385-510, giving the mighty Yankees undisputed possession of 20th and last place in the "farm club" standings. They were 53 games deeper in the red (below .500) than the 19th-place team, Kansas City. One baseball student who follows the Yankee organization closely suggests that the parent front office seems hardly to think of the farm teams anymore. Thus, Richmond, Va., one of the Yankees' top minor league affiliates, had mustered no team to speak of until the Yanks, as a sort of afterthought, shipped along a stack of players the day before the season opened. The idea seems to be that there is no need for winners down on the farm as long as you develop one or two players for the varsity.
Question: How much longer can the Yankees come up with varsity-strengthening players from a losing farm system? And how are the farmhands to develop the winning Yankee spirit playing with losers?