On July 8, 2021, in another in a long list of “the show must go on” actions it was announced that the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics would still start at the end of July 2021, but would do so without fans in attendance.
In short, the games would have fanfare but no common man or woman in the stands cheering the athletes onto victory.
The reason cited for the nixing of fans and pomp and circumstance was the fact that Tokyo is currently under a state of National Emergency due to the number of COVID-19 cases sweeping through the region.
COVID-19 was surging in Tokyo last year as well which caused the 2020 Summer Games to move to 2021.
So, with not much changed in terms of the amount of virus in and around Tokyo between this time last year and now, the games will continue. After all, organizers will be quick to say that there is too much money on the line to postpone the games once again.
Although the idea of going full blast with the Olympics while the average citizens of Japan are battling the COVID-19 monster sounds like the plot of a bad Godzilla movie, it is very much a real thing.
I have always loved watching classic Godzilla movies. While the battles between Godzilla and his band of monsters are entertaining, I enjoy the way that the heroes always win in the end by using sound scientific principles.
It does not take a scientist battling a radioactive monster to see that even without fans, having thousands of athletes, coaches, media and other support personnel travel to a virus hot spot for two weeks and then returning to their home countries does not seem like the brightest idea.
At least by banning fans from the venues inside Tokyo the number of people who would potentially take COVID-19 back to their home countries is minimized somewhat.
But this is not a column about my love of Godzilla movies, or the rationale of holding international sporting events during COVID-19. For right or wrong, numerous leagues across the world have declared themselves open for business and the COVID0-19 virus vanquished. Many scientists and other people dispute that claim but still the games must go on.
Were I in a position to make that decision, I would certainly postpone the games. However, at the end of the day, it does not really matter to me whether the Olympics are held or not since I will not be watching them, nor really caring about who wins what medal.
My ambivalence towards the Olympics is a somewhat recent development. I was once a fan of the Olympic games and all that I thought they stood for. However, I grew cynical to the point of despising the Olympics while pursuing my Master of Science (M.S.) in Sport Management.
I am sure that my instructors thought that the in-depth study of the Olympics would fill me to the brim with pride. However, the more I studied the Olympics, the more it had the opposite effect.
Once you peel back the layers of the Olympic onion and get past all of the pomp and circumstance, one is left with a very rotten core where sportsmanship and competition are overshadowed by greed and graft.
In 2014, I glowingly wrote about my excitement to watch the Opening Ceremony for the Winter Games in Sochi Russia. In my column, I mentioned some of the issues that the Russian organizers were having in finishing the facilities in time for the opening ceremonies but the overall theme of the column was that I was looking forward to the games and saw them as something that brought the world together for a few weeks of positive competition.
From the bribes and kickbacks during the host city selection process, to the fact that billions of dollars in facility construction is often spent in third world countries where citizens live in poverty and the shiny arenas of the Olympics turn into crumbling relics after the games the Olympic are rife with a darker side.
Six months after the torch was extinguished at the 2016 Summer games in Rio de Janeiro, many of the Olympic venues had been abandoned and were in various states of decay. One need only do an internet search on abandoned Olympic sites to see that Rio is far from alone in spending billions of dollars to build the infrastructure for the Olympics only to watch it all go to waste after the torch has moved on to the next city.
The crumbling Olympic venues dotting landscapes across the globe serve as reminders that as cities continue to battle to host the games, some countries would be better off spending the billions of dollars it takes to host the games in others ways.
As someone once said, “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.”
While I am against the Olympics on principle, I support the various athletes who train for years for what often amounts to a single chance to go for gold on the world stage.
In that regard, I can see that continuing to postpone the games will have serious ramifications on athletes from around the world who dream of that one shot at Olympic glory and immortality.
The old saying about hating the game not the player comes to mind along with visions of Hamilton and Eminem not wanting to give away their one shot.
The 2020 games taking place in 2021 will feature the return of baseball, and softball as Olympic sports. Baseball was last an Olympic sport in 2008. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed back in 2016 to add karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing to the competition slate for the Tokyo games in a bid to attract younger fans to the games and stay relevant.
As someone who still has their 1985 Topps Mark McGwire Olympics rookie card, I am certainly happy to see baseball back in the Olympics, but even that does not really move my excitement needle to want to watch the games this year.
Despite my current position on the Olympics, I am hopeful that I may once again put on my blinders and see the whole onion instead of the rotten layers.
I have always been more of a Winter Olympics fan than a Summer Olympic fan. As such, perhaps my cynicism will melt by the time hockey and curling roll around in 2022 at the Beijing Winter Olympic games. If not, one can hope that I will be California dreaming by 2028 and will be watching beach volleyball and surfing on the sands and waves of SoCal that I know so well.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the sudden urge to listen to some Blue Oyster Cult.
Copyright 2021 R. Anderson