Sharing a bubble of Olympic delusion

Published on May 16th, 2021

by WM Nixon, Afloat
Time was when the question of whether the 2020-Olympics-in-2021 should or should not be staged would have been described as the Elephant in the Room, suggesting the presence of an imponderable so large and unthinkable that the sanity-seeking majority of the global sporting population have continued determinedly along as though it is, of course, going to happen. The ponderous pachyderm, they’ve said, is a figment of people’s imagination.

But a small but growing minority in sport are increasingly in agreement with the fact that an international super-spreader event like the Olympics simply has to be cancelled as the world still grapples with an ever-mutating virus.

That’s the balance of attitudes within the gung-ho sporting community. But within the population at large, the situation is already very different, with 90% of the general population in host country Japan being against the idea of the Games going ahead in July while at the more specific level, at least 40 Japanese townships, which in previous Olympiad years had generously hosted national teams, have indicated that in July 2021, such teams will no longer be welcome.

The emergence of this and other gloom-inducing facts during the past week or so, such as a lowly 1% vaccination rate in Japan itself, have contributed to what appears to be a tipping point in opinion in top sporting circles. This is leading to the weary resignation of preparing for acceptance of the unthinkable – that the postponed 2020 Olympics will not happen in 2021, and thus is there any point of thinking about a third attempt at staging them in Japan in 2022, when the 2024 Paris Olympics are already thundering up the agenda?

The scenario is so unthinkable – so unreal and rumor-prone – that those of us on the outside can only grasp at straws in the wind as to how things are going in the real decision-making centers. And for long enough, as the majority of us clung to the hope that the Games would go ahead – albeit in very shrunken relatively spectator-less settings – each little indicator that suggested things were on track was hopefully added to our viewpoint.

But in doing so, we were ignoring the sheer vastness, the extremely spread-out nature, and the very lengthy time-span of the modern Olympics. Even in the most normal of times, the potential for some section of the games to come off the rails is ever-present. So heaven alone knows what twists of disease and other trouble might unravel in the extreme heat of 2021 Tokyo in high summer, when hysteria can run amok. – Full report


Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021

Details: https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/schedule/olympic/

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