We missed so much a year ago. Now things are gradually returning and everyone wants normalcy. We feel that too. We think, however, that probably it’s too soon for a global gathering like the Olympics.
It is the hope of us all that the Games, set to begin Friday in Tokyo, go off without a hitch. Thousands of athletes have worked their entire lives for this moment, a moment that has already been pushed back a year for many and a dream denied for others.
The Olympics represent the best of us, the largest peacetime gathering of the nations across the world. For two weeks, it’s a showcase.
So far, however, it just feels like too much too soon.
Dozens of athletes from numerous nations have already tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Japan, even days out from the Opening Ceremonies. U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff withdrew after testing positive. The United States’ men’s basketball team sent a player home before they even left for Japan.
International Olympic Committee officials are doing what they can to make the Games safe. Fans were banned months ago, a sad reminder that pulling something of this magnitude off comes at a severe cost. Parents, friends and families, who have sacrificed for years to help their athletes achieve the remarkable status of “Olympian” will have to watch from afar, denied the chance to see their loved ones fulfill lifelong dreams.
The IOC has sent out three updates to its COVID-19 Playbook, including a final revision within the past month. “The COVID-19 countermeasures described in the Playbook are designed to create a safe Games environment for all Games participants,” the rules note. “Equally, they offer an additional layer of protection for our hosts, the residents of Japan. You must fully adhere to the Playbook in the 14 days before you travel, throughout your journey and throughout your time in Japan — keeping your interaction with non-Games participants to a minimum.”
Less than a quarter of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated. While the IOC estimates that upward of 80 to 85 percent of athletes and members of teams will be vaccinated, pulling off a successful competition means the interaction at the Games will be few and far between.
That is sad. Away from the fields of competition, the interaction of cultures, the festival that is the Olympic Village, seeing athletes go watch other sports when done competing are among the most special things about the Olympics.
We hope the competition will be as we all remember, what draws us in every two years. Ultimately though, we think waiting a while longer would have been in everyone’s best interests.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.