Only World Wars have kept the Olympic Games from going on — until now, that is.
The only three times the Olympics have been canceled previously were because of World War I and twice during World War II. Now, there’s a world crisis that goes by the name of the coronavirus and it’s taken down the Olympics.
As the sports world crumbled around us with everything from the NCAA Tournament being canceled to the NFL Draft being held without fans to even high school sports being in limbo over when and if they’ll be able to resume, it seemed like the Olympics were the only holdout. The 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo weren’t supposed to start until July 24, and it seemed like maybe we would get out of these murky waters by then — and hopefully we still will.
But Tuesday, after much consideration, the International Olympics Committee officially announced it would be postponing this year’s Games.
It’s the right thing to do, of course. Mainly because we don’t know if we’ll be out of this pandemic by then or what countries COVID-19 will have hit by that point. Another good reason is because so many athletes right now are limited in what they can do training wise and to put them on the world’s largest sports stage and ask them to compete for
lifelong dreams without proper training isn’t fair. It’s not only a health risk but it compromises what the Olympics are truly about — the best of the best competing against the rest of the best at their best.
Right now, no one is at their best.
But just because postponing the Olympics is the right thing to do doesn’t make it any less difficult to swallow. For me personally, it seems less and less likely by the day the AHSAA will resume play this season and that hurts on a personal level and also makes my heart hurt for the kids who will never get this season back. As more and more sports drop their coming events, I have to think high school sports associations around the country will begin to follow suit.
It’s also difficult to accept because the Olympics have always seemed like such a sure thing. No matter how bad things were going in the world politically, economically or otherwise, those athletes always came together to celebrate their country’s talents and the countries’ populations got behind them and united together.
I spoke to Central Alabama Community College golf coach Dave Jennings on Tuesday for a project about how the cancellation of the season and he brought up a good point about how his student-athletes — and all others at the collegiate and high school level — are dealing with their first big historical moment.
“This is the biggest historical thing they’ve seen; this is their 9/11,” Jennings said. “But when 9/11 happened, you could see all the faces and see everyone pulling together. Now, they don’t get that on social media. They don’t see, ‘We’re all together; we feel your pain; we’ll make it through,” because we’re all told to stay apart.”
The Olympics, more than anything, was the great common denominator for sports around the world and to have that taken away is a heartbreaker.
Currently, the IOC is saying the Games will be postponed likely to 2021, but it’s so hard to predict the future, especially now, and it’s hard to be sure they’ll ever happen.
All I want to tell Jennings’ student-athletes and so many others like them is the world is, in fact, coming together. To make a decision like this wasn’t easy on anyone, I’m sure, but in a way, it was the world somehow saying, “We are all in this together. We do feel your pain. And we will make it through.”