Column Reax: It Was Time For IOC To Make Postponement Call
Columnists and pundits across North America prior to the IOC's official word that the Tokyo Games are being postponed expressed their thoughts on the subject. In N.Y., George Willis writes postponing the Games was a decision "that has to be made in light of the devastation and disruption being caused by COVID-19 and the uncertainty of when things will get better” (N.Y. POST, 3/24). USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan notes postponing an Olympics is "nothing at all like suspending a season or a tournament," as preparations "have been years in the making." Brennan: "To not hold the Games this summer is crushing to the hundreds of thousands of people planning to work at and go to the Olympics, even though it is the right decision due to the awful explosion of this deadly virus” (USA TODAY, 3/24).
IT WAS TIME FOR IOC TO ACT: In Seattle, Larry Stone writes it was "beyond time" for the IOC to "come to the same conclusion that virtually every governing body, and an increasing number of athletes, have grudgingly, sadly, reluctantly -- but necessarily -- wrapped their brains around” (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/24). In L.A., Helene Elliott: “The plug must be pulled on these Games, and the sooner the better. … Thomas Bach, do your duty. Postpone the Games now” (L.A. TIMES, 3/24). In K.C., Vahe Gregorian: “It’s important to immediately stop the delusion that this can be done on schedule” (K.C. STAR, 3/24). USA TODAY’s Nancy Armour: “Keeping up the pretense that things could magically improve over the next few months had reached the point of being reckless” (USA TODAY, 3/24). In Utah, Doug Robinson writes not postponing the Games "would be irresponsible and endanger people everywhere." Robinson: "It would be difficult to design a better way to spread the disease if you were trying” (DESERET NEWS, 3/24). THE RINGER’s Rodger Sherman: “Of all the sporting events in existence, the Olympics are probably the most dangerous to hold during a global pandemic” (THERINGER.com, 3/23).
WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO HAVE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote the world "could have used the Summer Olympics to go off as planned -- this year as much as any." However, no matter "how good the intentions, that’s proved impossible in these unprecedented times” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/23). In Houston, Brian Smith: “As unifying and amazing as the Olympics can be, the world can’t handle the weight of the Olympics until the world gets right” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/24). In Nashville, Gentry Estes: “A postponement will be difficult for many logistical reasons, but the Olympics are about togetherness. That's an unrealistic goal in a time of social distancing, with survival for so many dependent on staying apart” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 3/24)
ANOTHER SIGN IOC IS OUT OF TOUCH: In N.Y., Matthew Futterman notes the IOC's "slow public responses to the coronavirus have been only the latest example of an organization seemingly out of step with much of the world” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/24). In S.F., Ann Killion: “In the face of a global crisis, postponing the Olympics is the only thing that makes sense. Which must be why it is taking so long for the IOC to take deliberate action” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/24). SPORTSNET.ca’s Jeff Blair wrote the fact the IOC is “once again failing miserably when it comes to a test of leadership should hardly come as a news flash” (SPORTSNET.ca, 3/23). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey: “I’d like to think that Canada shamed the IOC into its decision Monday, but having dealt with these people at eight Olympics, I know that they are incapable of shame. More likely, IOC officials realized that Canada would have lots of company soon” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/24).
CANADA STEPS UP: In Toronto, Dave Feschuk writes some country "had to make the first urgent push for sanity," and Canada, due to its move on Sunday to announce it would not participate in the Games if they take place this year "no matter what happens from here, will go down as the first across the finish line to what’s suddenly a foregone conclusion” (TORONTO STAR, 3/24). An EDMONTON JOURNAL editorial states, "It’s to Canada’s credit that its Olympic committees were the first in the world to take such a stand. ... By stepping up, Canada showed the kind of decisive leadership and resolve in the face of an unprecedented crisis that was sorely lacking from the International Olympic Committee" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 3/24). In Toronto, Doug Smith: “I hope and expect that the dopes that run the IOC will come to their senses today or this week and do what Canada demands -- and most sane thinking, responsible people want -- and postpone the Tokyo Games for a year” (TORONTO STAR, 3/23). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Cathal Kelly: “We cancelled an Olympics that should have been cancelled days ago. … The COC hasn’t just pushed the IOC off the podium, but made the ruling body look like ridiculous ditherers” (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/24).
IS ONE YEAR ENOUGH? In Salt Lake City, Julie Jag notes the question “remains whether the threat of the virus will be prevalent even then [in '21] or whether it would be better off to push the Games to 2022.” That would put the Games, its broadcasters and its sponsors “in direct conflict with the world’s other mega sporting event, the FIFA World Cup as well as the 2022 Winter Olympics” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/24).