We live in strange times. A few weeks ago, I published a piece from my novel, If you Walk Long Enough, about the 1968 Summer Olympics and the raised fist salute of John Carlos and Tommie Smith as a gesture of protest against racial inequality. Now we have the postponement of the entire 2020 summer games as a result of another silent killer. A virus. Corvid-19.
It’s rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or rescheduled. Cancellation has occurred a scant six times in the modern history of the games, usually in the case of war. A first, the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee has agreed to cancel the Summer 2020 Games in Tokyo and move them to Summer 2021. The Tokyo venue will remain the same. At great expense. This move also signals another first—the move of decision making from the International Olympic Committee to the athletes. While the power to influence the IOC is informal, it nonetheless signals a certain chip out of the power structure.
The Olympic torch will remain in Tokyo, burning as a beacon of hope and resilience. Stealthy killers all: inequality, virus, unbridled power.