29 July, 2021

A Magic Bullet At Any Cost

As in 1964, Japan has a point to prove. It explains the drive towards hosting the costliest Summer Olympics ever in the midst of a pandemic.

Photograph by PTI
A Magic Bullet At Any Cost

Have a listen to this, ye mortals who despaired at the pandemic-­hit Tokyo 2020: a race through the origin and progress of the Olympics shows that even after 2,800 years, mankind has not been able to overcome the primordial challenges of infectious diseases and internal strife. The first Olympics on record in 776 BC had its root in overcoming wars and epidemics. Legend has it that Iphitos, king of Ellis, was eager to break the chain of armed conflicts that ravaged Greece in the eighth century BC. Iphitos consulted the Oracle of Delphi—that ubiquitous soothsayer of classical antiquity—who advised him to create a peaceful sporting competition.

Humankind is at a crucial juncture today and, if political conflicts and ­climate change were not enough, it is gasping at the gauntlet thrown by a deadly virus. Never before since the ­inception of modern Olympics in 1896 have the Games been cancelled due to a pandemic. Five Olympic Games didn’t happen—the summer games of 1916, 1940 and 1944, and the winter games of 1940 and 1944—because of...

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