Citius, altius, fortius – this Olympic motto was enough for 127 years. All these years and a corona pandemic later, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the triad was too short, and so he had it extended without further ado: Citius, altius, fortius – communiter. Or in German: faster, higher, stronger – together. “This is a milestone,” said Bach after the 183rd session in Tokyo had unanimously decided to amend the charter that was necessary for the establishment of the Tauberbischofsheimer appendix.
When he was re-elected in March, he made the proposal on the grounds that top performance could only be achieved through solidarity and that the world could only master the current challenges in solidarity. Now the members fulfilled his wish so that in the future he could feel like a Coubertin 2.0. The Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, the inventor of the Olympic movement, had proposed the motto at the founding congress of the IOC in Paris in 1894, and since then it had been cast in bronze. Just recently, a modification was about as conceivable as the possibility of a CEO getting his own point in the Mercedes star. But Bach can do anything.
On Tuesday, three days before the opening ceremony of the Problem Games in Tokyo, shortly before the start, Bach gave a speech that sounded as if someone had already successfully fought his way to his goal. 15 months ago, when Covid-19 suddenly destroyed all plans, there was only one alternative, postponement or cancellation, he said. “A cancellation would have been easy for us. We could have built on the insurance we had then and moved on to Paris 2024. ”But that was never an option. “The IOC never lets athletes down.”
Now Bach, now the Olympic family, after the one-year postponement, has their games in Tokyo with all the restrictions that have to be accepted. On Tuesday, in addition to all the corona unrest, there was even some good news, especially among the Japanese population. Emperor Naruhito, who had previously had the hosting of the Games gently criticized, will attend the opening ceremony on Friday, which, however, will take place in front of almost empty stands.
A bubble with holes
And the 20-year-old Ugandan weightlifter, who left his training camp illegally to stay in Japan and look for work, was picked up by the police. It is considered a prime example of the fact that despite all the regulations, Olympic participants can leave their assigned bubble, which is supposed to guarantee that the guests do not come into contact with the Japanese population and thus introduce possible virus mutants.
However, those responsible, who hope that top-class sport will soon take over the headlines from Tokyo, should have been shocked by another piece of news. The team of American gymnasts who are training in Inzai City near Tokyo already had a positive corona test on Sunday. But it is not about Simone Biles, who is competing in Tokyo with the plan not only to win the gold in the all-around competition, but also to win four individual devices and thus shine as the superstar of the games.
It hit the only 18-year-old substitute gymnast Kara Eaker, who is said to be vaccinated and has not developed any symptoms. The contact person who was identified is not Biles, but another substitute gymnast, Leanne Wong. Both were immediately isolated. The American gymnastics team flew to Tokyo together, but the daily tests of the eight other athletes remained negative.
American media report that Biles not only complies with the mask requirement of the Japanese authorities in Japan, but even wears a double mask. Meanwhile, a British journalist from the industry service insidethegames is stuck in quarantine in his hotel for 14 days because he was identified as a close contact with a fellow passenger. Unlike possibly affected athletes, he cannot free himself from this predicament.
All’s well that ends well?
His desire to spread Bach’s message that the Olympics in Tokyo will “give people confidence in the future” should not be particularly great. He too, said the 67-year-old IOC President, had doubts every day for the past 15 months. “There were sleepless nights.” But he was unable to express these doubts. “Some even interpreted this as a sign that we were pushing blindly at all costs.” But his doubts could eventually have become a prophecy that fulfills itself. “The Olympic Games could have gone to pieces.” The task, Bach indicated, was a heavy burden on him. And now? Has he really won yet?
Whether the Japanese authorities, the organizing committee and the IOC have successfully lifted the load will only be revealed at the closing ceremony. And whether the Olympics were damaged in this phase, not until much later. On this Wednesday, however, the IOC treats itself to a glimpse into the future. On the second day of the session, the 2032 Olympic Games will be awarded to Brisbane, Australia.