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Postponing the Tokyo Summer Games was the Right Decision of the Olympic Committee

By: Stacy E Kratz, PhD, LCSW, CAP

The new world order with COVID-19 means every single day, over and over, decision after decision is made on how to move forward. Never has it been more apparent that we lack 100% of the information needed for a clear, good decision. And it’s painfully obvious no matter how much time spent waiting for more information, it’s not available in a timely manner. Waiting too long to make a decision creates different problems that have long term negative effects as well, so hesitation is a problem management issue – an eternal dilemma that in the COVID-19 context has become glaringly real. Postponing the Tokyo Summer Games was the right decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), ensuring the Olympic flame will continue its eternal light.

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading, with over 400,000 confirmed cases, and over 17,000 people who have died. All of those that have contracted the virus, and all of those who have died, are members of families, living in communities. Globally, no one goes unaffected – and that includes Olympic athletes. They too are members of families, of communities, are global citizens. To deny the increased pressures and stresses upon these athletes as they themselves fear the future, would be to portray them as robots, without emotion, without feelings, void of humanity. That would be in stark contrast to the very essence of the Olympics: honoring humanity through solidarity.

The COVID-19 world demands solidarity through unity. Sport embodies a spirit of building strong communities of mutual understanding, of friendship, and of fair play. The sport arena holds an inspiring ability to promote a culture of peace and harmonious adjustment of differences. Recognizing this power, the IOC urges the use of sport as a service to humanity, and especially in 2016 modeled this belief by initiating the Olympic Laurel Trophy, a distinction awarded to honor those who have "made significant achievements in education, culture, development and peace through sport”. By postponing the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, the IOC is modelling solidarity in these vulnerable times, taking an empathic stance of togetherness. Today that means collective isolation, despite individual and group sacrifice. Today that means the Olympics continues to serve as a beacon of hope.

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