The mainstream media, on behalf of the governmental authorities and associated medical departments, were full of dire warnings of impeding COVID doom in Japan, when the country, together with the International Olympic Committee, insisted that the 2020 Tokyo games would be staged as rescheduled in 2021.
How could they? Or words like that emanated from almost every editorial and sport page of the popular and “respectable” press. The facts were, they stated without the slightest hint of uncertainty, that the Japanese and the thousands of athletes and officials would be waylaid by the marauding coronavirus variants waiting to pounce and send them all to the already busy intensive care units around Japan. How could they, they fumed, ignore the almost 80 percent of Japanese who wanted the games cancelled. The people’s voices were amplified by Japan’s chief medical advisor who felt the same way.
It’s a near certainty that when Japan decided to stage the games against the avalanche of advice to the contrary, altruism about missing an opportunity to bring the world together for the “friendly games”, was not the primary motivation. It was the money, both private and public, that would go down the drain, thereby missing the opportunity to turn a healthy profit.
But sometimes what motivates is often overshadowed by the end result. This was case in point.
So the confounded media had to hold their noses and watch the show. And what a show it was. There were great performances like the Jamaican women’s sprinting; Canadian 110 metre lightening bolt Andre De Grasse; Ethiopian – Dutch lioness Sifan Hussein; Karsten Warholm’s brilliant hurdling; Italian Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatari Muta Essa Barshim agreeing to share the gold medal for high jump; our own Damian Warner taking the prestigious decathlon gold; India’s first ever Olympic track and field gold won by Neeraj Chopra in javelin; the peerless Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, plus scores of more stories of great achievements and sportsmanship.
But the story of Jamaica’s 110 metre gold medalist hurdler Hansle Parchment took the cake: Parchment accidentally boarded a bus to the aquatic venue instead of the track and field stadium. If he had to use another bus, his mistake would have made it impossible to get to the field in time for his heat, and all would be lost. All the official cars on the streets were already filled to capacity. He stopped and begged an Olympic volunteer for help. She gave him cash for a taxi. He made his heat and later won the gold. The Jamaican government has invited her on all expenses paid trip to Jamaica. They need to find her. Her name is Tiana.
All this went on in a country and a city that, according to our mainstream media and the official medical spokespersons for COVID-19, would collapse under an assortment of coronavirus variants. The hapless athletes, who ignored the pleas and warnings of a media and medical establishment (a media grown accustomed to their daily hectoring of their native populations) would also be targets of the prowling coronavirus variants.
But the last time we looked, Tokyo was still standing and withstanding the corona blitz. It was made no worse by the presence of the thousands of athletes and officials that descended on Tokyo. Data a week ago reveal “that 127 people connected to the games tested positive for the SARS-CoV2 virus, including 71 people who are residents of Japan, including contractors and other games-connected personnel and 56 non-residents, including athletes, members of the media and other games personnel.” That, we were told by our consultants on Mount Olympus, is not enough to cause the sky to fall.
We commend the brave decision by the organizing authorities to stage what turned out to be one of the most exciting and absorbing Olympic Games since television became widely available.
We also commend the athletes for defying the wagging media fingers and instead put their best foot forward into the various arenas of combat, and their best hand out in friendship. In so doing, they have earned our admiration and respect, and lifted us all up from the depths isolation of varying degrees of severity.
We suspect the media and medical establishment are not done yet; no doubt ready to crow “I told you so” if a few athletes get a headache and have a temperature. But, according to my Jamaican brethren: “A suh it guh.”