IOC declares Tokyo Games a success, but was it?

“Success.” Sure. Let’s go with that.

“Success.” Sure. Let’s go with that.
Image: Getty Images

The Olympics ended yesterday, which allowed the president of the IOC to declare the Games a success. You could have the debate over what constitutes “success” for the Olympics all day. The actual completion of them doesn’t really feel like it qualifies, because there was never any other choice. Which is exactly what I wrote when the NFL season was completed. Or the MLB season last year. Or either NBA or NHL season.

These things were never going to be stopped. The powers that be would never let that happen. Oh sure, there were delays in our domestic leagues, and some serious hiccups. The Olympics had some athletes sidelined for a bit. And there were no crowds. But there was nothing that was going to stop them. There was nothing to overcome, or really even be risked. Not for those who run the games anyway. Is success possible without the possibility of failure?

Is Tokyo better off? No, in fact, it’s just about as bad as it’s been, and who knows what resources for fighting the pandemic in Japan’s capital were lost to putting on the Games. Those are the kinds of numbers that will never come to light. They’re still in lockdown, barely anyone is vaccinated, and now they can be in debt for generations for hosting this thing. Worked out great for them.

The IOC didn’t have to lose out on their payday, so I guess it was good for them. NBC got its advertising revenue, so they got something out of it (though how much really?).

Which is a little too callous, because there were great moments for a lot of competitors who had worked most of their lives for this. It seems unfair to pin this on them when they didn’t get a say either. It’s just hard to see how that can be weighed against the well-being of the population of Japan. We would have felt bad for those athletes if the Games had been outright canceled… for a few minutes. And most everyone in the world would have moved on with their lives. We talk about the athletes to try and rationalize having the Games, but it doesn’t really make that much of a difference to us.

But now it’s over. There wasn’t a rash of athletes getting seriously ill, which would have been just about the only thing that could have halted things, and even that’s debatable. We’ll have replays of the memorable moments on Twitter and elsewhere for a long while. We won’t see the state of emergency in Japan nearly as much. We’ll just hear about it. We’ve got our own to deal with, and too many people don’t even want to do that.

It happened, and we might think that in the future we’ll look back and wonder how it could have happened. More likely we’ll look back and know exactly why it happened, but won’t do all that much to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

Ugliness in Denver

There isn’t much I can say about Lewis Brinson being racially abused from the stands in Denver yesterday that my colleague Carron Phillips won’t say better later today. Or this tweet from my friend @curylfro.

What I will say is that what this is, and really what we’ve been dealing with for the past few years, is what happens when the minority party — not the party for minorities obviously but the less popular one, and that’s what they are — can only cling to power and relevance by making their supporters proud instead of afraid, its traditional go-to.

That’s how it used to be. They tried to make everyone afraid of everything. Immigrants taking your job, Black people from the city coming to take your house, the government coming to take your guns that would have protected you from such scourge, the foreign terrorists that could bomb us at any moment, the tax dollars that will be siphoned off from guarding against these “threats,” all of it was something you had to be afraid of. They didn’t have answers of course, just as they don’t now, but fear was the main driver.

That has apparently run its course, so now the bottom rung of society is being made to feel proud of carrying all that fear and suspicion of what they don’t know. Racism isn’t any larger or smaller than it was, it’s just more proud, and because of that, louder. More visible. That’s not to minimize it, as it was a large problem when people were still just afraid and in the background and, dare I say, ashamed. Once they became proud, this is what you get.

[UPDATE]: There’s a dispute about what the fan was actually yelling, with many claiming he was trying to get the attention of “Dinger,” the Rockies’ mascot, who was stationed behind the Rockies dugout.

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