Calgary Herald

The only thing Olympic leaders can really guarantee is safe in Tokyo is their own backsides

- SALLY JENKINS

The Tokyo Games will be safe, perfectly safe. How do I know? Because Baron Von Ripperoff and the other lords at the Internatio­nal Olympic Committee have assured me so. And the IOC'S assurances are to be trusted, are they not?

Just look at them, so authoritat­ive in their dark lapels and gold pins and rimless glasses. They're as immovable and solid as statues. Any resemblanc­e to the living is purely coincident­al.

The trick to feeling secure in the IOC is to buy their posturing and propaganda and ignore their ominous back door backside covering.

If you're afraid that holding the Summer Games in the midst of a global pandemic and a state of emergency in Japan could become a variant supersprea­der event, it's best to shield your eyes from the frightenin­g liability waivers the IOC'S lawyers are demanding athletes sign to compete. They absolve IOC officials of any responsibi­lity for anything that might happen, ever, in travelling to and from Tokyo to anyplace else in the world, in perpetuity, and forever.

“I agree that I participat­e in the Games at my own risk and own responsibi­lity, including any impact on my participat­ion to and/or performanc­e in the Games, serious bodily injury or even death, raised by the potential exposure to health hazards such as the transmissi­on of COVID-19 and other infectious disease or extreme heat conditions ...” the waivers read.

Yes, please overlook that special language, newly written and inserted into the IOC'S mandatory participat­ion agreement, for this safe, very safe, most safe event.

“The Olympic Village is a safe place and Olympic and Paralympic Games will be organized in a safe way,” IOC president Thomas Bach intoned in cool dead tones back on May 19. Bach repeated the phrase “safe and secure” with the hollow repetitive chant of a hypnotist in a letter to the Olympic community on June 29, three times in seven paragraphs.

“We are well into the delivery phase of a safe and secure Games,” he wrote.

See? They're already safe, and they haven't even begun.

Don't read the news out of Australia, where Sydney is on lockdown because of the variant sweeping through the Asia-pacific rim, or listen to New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklia­n about how several people were infected by “fleeting” contact in a restaurant and shopping mall.

“We need to recognize that this Delta variant ... is actually a gold medallist when it comes to jumping from one person to another,” Berejiklia­n said.

And don't listen to Australian national team physician Dr. David Hughes, who has called the Tokyo airport as well as the gym and dining hall of the Olympic Village “areas of risk.”

Listen instead to IOC vice-president John Coates, whose voice is as lulling as chloroform.

“It is now clearer than ever that these Games will be safe for the people participat­ing and safe for the people of Japan,” he promised in May.

They'll be coming from everywhere, 93,000 athletes, coaches, officials, staff and media all converging on the Olympic Village — which has 18,000 beds in 3,600 rooms.

Shared bathrooms in a pandemic? Nothing unsafe there. It's safe, perfectly safe. Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita assured us so.

“In a world that the coronaviru­s divided, sports will bond people,” he said.

Pay no attention to the two Olympic Village staffers who tested positive on July 6 after eating at the same table, in a main dining hall that seats 3,000. And for goodness sake, avert your gaze from the Ugandan team, two members of whom tested positive for the Delta variant after arriving in Japan for training, though the delegation was fully vaccinated — one at the airport and the other after travelling 300 miles to Osaka — resulting in the quarantini­ng of seven officials and drivers.

Whatever you do, don't listen to Rob Koehler, director general of Global Athlete, an advocacy organizati­on for Olympic competitor­s, who is left “speechless” by the IOC'S demand of blanket liability disclaimer­s from athletes, most of whom are amateur part-timers with day jobs back home.

“They're going there not paid, and they're expected to generate billions in revenue for the IOC, and they take all the risk,” Koehler fumed. “It's unthinkabl­e.”

Listen instead to Coates when he says, “We're doing it for the athletes ... our job is to ensure these Games are safe for all of the participan­ts and all the people who might come into contact with the participan­ts.”

Ignore the doubts in your own mind, which tell you we won't really know how risky this was until people go back to their home countries, perhaps carrying the virus, perhaps to places where the majority of their countrymen are unvaccinat­ed and the health-care system is overwhelme­d, and especially won't know for some time what this is doing to the Japanese population.

Smother your suspicion that the IOC'S real agenda is that it's desperate to collect on US$4 billion in broadcast rights fees that make up its main revenue, so their only propaganda play is to understate the risk, and campaign that everything is safe, perfectly safe, while the lawyers make dramatic changes to waivers that cover no one but their uniformly grey backsides.

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