Turns out there are two kinds of humans during a pandemic: Those who take it seriously, and those willing to risk spreading disease.
And it turns out there are two kinds of sports operations during a pandemic: Those that act decisively, and the organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Sunday, the International Olympic Committee finally announced it will contemplate a postponement of the 2020 Games, and will make a final decision within a month.
The IOC also announced that it will not cancel the Games.
On Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach wrote, in a letter to athletes, that the IOC is discussing the timing of the Games with key stakeholders and is “confident’’ that a final decision will be made within the next four weeks.
“Together with all the stakeholders, we have started detailed discussions today to complete our assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including a scenario of postponement,’’ Bach wrote. “We are working very hard, and we are confident that we will have finalized these discussions within the next four weeks.’’
The Olympics are currently scheduled to begin on July 24 in Tokyo. Despite the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world, the IOC previously had refused to publicly entertain the possibility of a postponement.
Logic dictates that the Games be postponed until the summer of 2021. It would be criminally stupid to hold them this summer, during a worldwide pandemic. Holding them this winter wouldn’t make any sense either.
But logic doesn’t always guide the IOC, not when money is involved, and there is a lot of money involved.
What we’re seeing from what has proved to be one of the most corrupt organizations in the world is a ponderous movement toward an obvious conclusion: Postponing the Games for a year.
The point of the Olympics is bringing together athletes and spectators from all over the world. That would be the opposite of social distancing, and social distancing is vital to stopping the rapid spread of the virus.
Don’t take it from me. Take it from health experts. Not Uncle Joe on Facebook. Real experts, who are providing information through credible news organizations.
We’re lucky in Minnesota. We have state officials providing daily updates and answering questions, and we have reputable media outlets, including the experts at the Star Tribune, relaying accurate information to the public.
If a family member is telling you to aim a blow dryer up your nose, or to drink bleach, then you need a new information source, if not a new family.
The virus is an intelligence test, and the IOC is threatening to fail it as badly as a Miami Beach spring breaker.
Athletes and national Olympic committees are displaying more wisdom and urgency than the IOC. A number of prominent athletes have made this case via social media, and on Sunday Global Athlete released a statement questioning the IOC’s lethargy.
Saturday, U.S. track star Lolo Jones told the Associated Press that she wants the Games postponed.
“If our job as Olympians and Olympic hopefuls is to inspire society and be healthy, we’re going in direct conflict with that by going out in public to find gyms and tracks and pools that are still open to train for the Games,” Jones said. “Some people are doing that because the IOC is telling us to stay ready, to keep training.”
Perhaps the IOC is considering holding the Games without spectators, to turn Tokyo into a virtual television studio for three weeks.
That would be a mistake even if the IOC could guarantee the safety of all athletes. The roar of the crowd is an essential part of the pageantry of the competitions.
American sports have shut down, costing owners and leagues immense amounts of money. They are not damaging their finances on a lark. They are preventing people from gathering and spreading the virus.
“Faster, higher, stronger’’ is the Olympics’ poetic motto. In 2020, we should edit in the word “safer.’’