If doom and gloom were an Olympic event, it already would have swept the medals at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. When an anonymous Japanese politician said last week that he or she “didn’t think” the Olympics would be held, a worldwide media frenzy ensued, with news organizations across the globe bracing for breaking news that never materialized.
Over the next three or four months, expect more of this. Much more. An official or a politician will utter something about the Summer Olympics, scheduled for July 23-August 8, 2021, and the world will shudder, while the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers will say that all systems still are go because, right now, they most definitely are.
This doesn’t mean the Olympics will actually be held; it only means that the IOC and local organizers likely will push any decision to cancel the Games to the last possible minute.
Last year, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed on March 24. If officials have to make the devastating decision to cancel the Olympics – creating an eight-year gap between Summer Games and a lost generation of athletes while costing TV rights-holders, sponsors and other stakeholders billions of dollars – they almost certainly will hold off as long as they can.
People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on the Odaiba waterfront as Olympic rings is seen in the background in Tokyo. (Photo: The Associated Press)
“I don’t think a decision like that will be made in March,” Dick Pound, the longest-serving IOC member, told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I think you want to wait and see. You want to get as far out of winter as you can. That’s usually the end of the flu season. If there’s any doubt, they’ll drag it out as long as possible to see if it can be made safe enough to proceed.”
Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, is optimistic the Olympics will be held this summer despite the world's struggles with COVID-19.
“Knowing what I know, yes, I am,” he said. “Unless the elephant in the room shows a resurgence, the party line in the IOC and Japan is we’re going to find a way to put the Games on. If there’s no huge spike in Japan and around the world, odds are pretty good they will pull it off.”
COMEBACK TRAIL: Olympic gymnastics hopeful MyKayla Skinner battles COVID-19 and time in bid to compete in Tokyo
As the international sports community searches for positive developments in the midst of the pandemic, one came Tuesday morning from USA Swimming, which announced plans to modify but still hold its popular Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, June 13-20. The event will have less than half of its usual complement of competitors, about 750 swimmers, vying for about 50 spots on the Olympic team.
Another competition will be held a week earlier at the same venue for those swimmers who qualified for the trials but with slightly slower times in their events. To allow for possible break-out performances from those athletes, the first- and second-place finishers in individual finals at that competition will advance to the main event the next week with a chance to try to qualify for the Olympic team.
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, the IOC said that when vaccinations are made available to the public at large, Olympic and Paralympic teams should “be vaccinated given their role as ambassadors of their NOCs (National Olympic Committees) and given the role of sport ‘to promote safe sport as a contributor to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities,’ as recently stated in a UN resolution which was adopted by consensus in the UN General Assembly.”
For all the uncertainty surrounding the Olympic Games, we can be sure of this: There will be some serious arguments over when Olympic athletes should be vaccinated, if at all, prior to the Games. It’s a controversial topic today, no doubt, but this wouldn’t happen today. It would happen in April, May, June and July, when the COVID landscape presumably – hopefully – will look different.
“Of course you deal first with health-service deliverers and people at high risk and essential services and teachers,” Pound said. “Then comes everyone else. When it becomes to some degree discretionary, somewhere in there, don’t forget you’re sending an Olympic team to Japan. Put the athletes on the list somewhere and assess it as we move along.”
Like everything else in the world today, what looks to be true in January might not be the case in July. There have never been more unknowns in an Olympic year. It’s now a matter of waiting and wondering, one month to the next.
Source: Read Full Article