Olympics: COVID Style

I’m a self-confessed Olympics junkie. Whenever they’re on, I just can’t resist watching them. It doesn’t really matter which sport, and while I generally cheer for the USA, I also root for Germany and Slovakia, and I’m a sucker for any come-from-behind, underdog story. So you would think I’m really looking forward to tonight, when the opening ceremonies kick everything off. (Well, technically it’s already happened, but I generally go for watching the evening highlights. Why? Because I’ve watched the live feeds before, and while NBC’s coverage frustrates me from time to time (since it ignores some sports and usually focuses just on the American angle), they do a very good job of giving context to the sports. Without context, they aren’t nearly as impactful.)

But instead of being 100% hyped, I’m . . . unsure how I feel. On the one hand, Olympics! Yay! But on the other hand, this is going to be an Olympics with very few spectators, held in a country where 83% of the people said they didn’t want them to take place. And that was back in May! It feels in many ways to me like the rest of the world is just sort of forcing the Olympics down Japan’s throat. The country’s at the start of a third wave of COVID, and there have already been multiple reports of athletes coming down with the disease.

I look at rates around the world still, and right now things look like anything other than “COVID is over.” I know people don’t want to go back to masks and social distancing, and I also realize that many people in America are convinced the vaccine is part of some government ploy, but what in the world are we going to do? In the US, my best guess is “nothing.” People will refuse to go back to masks and quarantine. People will refuse to get vaccines. Unvaccinated people will begin to be hospitalized in droves and then die, and then maybe that might convince the unvaccinated that they really maybe better change their mind.

Or maybe that scenario will be totally wrong, and I’m worrying over nothing. For the moment, I’m vaccinated and almost all the people I know are, so I feel somewhat at ease, even if I’m still worried this all results in vaccine-resistant strain of the virus. (Wouldn’t that be fun?)

But I digress.

How can the Olympics do anything but hurt Japan? They get almost none of the tourism dollars. None of the spectator dollars. They’re forced to do something they don’t want to do, and they’re going to lose around $20 billion for that privilege.

So where does that put me? Probably watching to see how they go, but also hoping that things don’t get too bad? I’m going to watch them, because if everyone boycotts watching them, what does that do? It makes what Japan is going through even more terrible. To have them do it all anyway, and then have it all be for nothing? That sounds horrid. But I’m really hoping NBC or the IOC or someone is doing things to help the country out, because this feels very wrong to me, no matter how excited I may want to be to watch some good sports drama.

What do you think?


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