The odd Olympics
This week the Olympic Summer Games will begin in Tokyo, already a year late and one of the oddest ever to be held.
Thanks to COVID-19, the International Olympics Committee and the Japanese government have banned foreign spectators. The athletes marching in for the opening ceremony will have no one to wave to. No chants or cheers from home nation fans as they compete.
The streets of Tokyo will be empty, without the tourists that are usually expected to boost the local economy and provide a return for the massive investment in facilities that Japan has made.
A vast percentage of a reluctant Japanese population is preparing to battle through the next couple of weeks, hoping that the influx of thousands of athletes and officials that do arrive won’t bring more COVID-19 cases to a country that is largely unprotected.
One thing that won’t change is that television will bring it to the rest of the world, and will profit greatly, along with the IOC. Television will bring us the competition, the triumphs, the joys and disappointments that seem to matter so much more on the world stage.
One of the joys of the Olympic Games is the way it brings people from around the world together to celebrate athletic competition, to learn a little more about other countries and other people and, for a short while, to dream about a world where we can all get along.
A lot of that will be missing with this year’s Olympic games. Athletes will be competing against COVID-19 as well as each other. We hope that COVID-19 won’t be able to claim victory at the end.