The Tokyo Olympics of 2021, will not be the sporting spectacle that was first planned, but it may just be what the world needs right now, says Julian Linden.
The Tokyo Olympics of 2021, will not be the sporting spectacle that was first planned, but it may just be what the world needs right now, says Julian Linden.

Why the Tokyo Olympics must not be stopped

OPINION

Only the most heartless spoilsport could be death riding the Tokyo Olympics now.

The Games may not be everyone's sport of choice and the cynics are right to question how a multi-billion dollar industry still gets away with marketing itself as a movement where the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.

But that completely misses the point because right now, those old-fashioned, cheesy ideals are just what the world needs.

For all its faults, the Olympics remain one of the few events that has the real capacity to unite the world - where the likes of Michael Phelps and Eric the Eel can share the same stage.

And not since the end of the second World War, has humanity needed to come together than it does right now.

That's why the whole planet should be supporting Japan's efforts to hold the Olympics and Paralympics this year instead of bagging it.

The easiest thing - perhaps even the safest - would be to put it in the too hard basket and just call it off but that's the actions of cavemen.

More than ever, the world needs to chase the light at the end of the tunnel because the cancel culture has had its day even if the pandemic has been deadlier and more contagious than anyone ever expected.

All the border closures, the lockdowns, and the rules, they can't be sustained forever because we need to learn how to live with the coronavirus, vaccine or no vaccine.

Other sports have already managed it so why not the biggest of the lot.

The NRL and AFL both played their seasons through to the end.

The Wallabies hosted New Zealand and Argentina in a historic Rugby Championship.

From total despair, the Pumas, who spent months in quarantine, found the inspiration to beat the All Blacks for the first time and twice drew with Australia.

Australia's cricketers hosted an unforgettable series against India that will also serve as another eternal reminder of what humans can do when their backs are against the wall.

Professional sports all went ahead in Europe and Asia and the United States, albeit sometimes without spectators allowed in the stadiums. Formula One managed to carry on, the Super Bowl is going ahead next month and later this year, Euro 2020 will kick off a year later than expected.

To the doubters, the teething problems that the Australian Open is currently experiencing after chartering in the world's best tennis players is proof that the Olympics should be called off.

But to the believers, the fact the Australian Open is still going ahead is the proof that anything can be overcome.

No one is saying it's going to be easy but the Tokyo Games can and should go ahead and there's not a soul on the planet who will want to miss them.

Before the pandemic, Japan was hoping to deliver a Games that would rank among the greatest ever.

The scaled down version they are now trying to stitch together isn't what they had in mind, but it may yet exceed their wildest expectations.

If they pull it off, July 23, 2021, will be Japan's proudest moment.

It won't mark the end of the pandemic but the Opening Ceremony will serve as an everlasting reminder that anything can be overcome if the will is there and it is.

Tears will be shed for the millions who have lost their lives to the killer virus but what better way to honour them than by bringing the world together.

If nothing else, the athletes deserve their chance for the years of work and training they've put in, as Susanne Lyons, the chair of the powerful US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, perfectly summed up.

"We can't give up," she told Around The Rings. "They haven't given up.

"If human ingenuity can figure out how to do it, there's no question there will be athletes in Tokyo this Summer.

"Will there be spectators? Will there be fans? I don't know that yet.

"But we are very optimistic that we will be able to put on a Games and competition at a time the world really needs to see it and really needs to be able to turn on their televisions and turn on their computers and see what the greatest athletes in the world can do and how they represent the best of humanity."

If watching athletes taking part in sports events seems frivolous after all the death and human misery and economic fallout from the past year, there's a simple solution.

Just turn away and don't look, but don't spoil it for everyone else.

Originally published as Why the Tokyo Olympics must not be stopped


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