This weekend, the International Olympic Committee gathered in Buenos Aires and
had a big party that I wasn’t invited to made some big decisions that would reverberate throughout the next few years on a very international scale. Luckily, each representative is chosen by democratic vote by all Olympic partici — wait, what am I saying? Actually, the IOC’s new members are chosen by the current IOC’s members, based on no criteria whatsoever. Well, maybe wealth, and fame, and networking. Yes, it’s exactly like high school. And yes, that means all their decisions can be made — and likely are made — based on personal interest.
Anyway, they decided a lot of important Olympic decisions all on their own. In each circumstance, the country or sport made an impassioned bid and the IOC voted privately.
1. The 2020 Olympics will be in Tokyo
We’ve spoken about Olympic city bids in the past, each with its own unique history. The New York Times calls Tokyo the safe choice above Istanbul, with its precarious political climate and Madrid’s problems with economic strife and large unemployment, despite the troubles of the Fukushima disaster. In response to the latter, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said in his pitch to the International Olympic Committee (IOC):
Let me assure you the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo. I make the statement to you in the most emphatic and unequivocal way.
I mean, it’s more of a “don’t worry about it” than a “we’ve got it under control,” but apparently it was acceptable enough for the IOC. I guess the giant ice wall Japan plans to build against the radioactive water will have to do?
Everyone complains constantly about the Olympics, but Tokyo is seen as “safe” as the city has already hosted the games, Japan’s hosted twice (I actually remember staying up late watching the Nagano 1998 Games), and they already have the infrastructure to hold the games rather than making a budget to build it and vastly overspending, as London, Sochi, and Rio did.
Also, apparently the dystopian manga (that’s Japanese comic to you cool people) Akira predicted the 2020 Olympics. Well, they seem to have lasers in this dystopia, so it can’t be so bad, right?
2. Wrestling is an Olympic sport and squash and baseball/softball aren’t
Funnily enough, the IOC put wrestling on watch in February, but after their showing in Buenos Aires, they relented. Olympic drama! The problem was that wrestling failed to modernize in the eyes of the IOC, so the sport changed its rules, administration, gender equality policy (!), and operations to win this. These changes will likely have a trickle-down effect and make big changes in the way the sport lives now.
The other 27 sports will be up for review in 2017 — but only 28 sports are allowed on the docket at any one time, because of Reasons, apparently. Squash has never been on the docket, but baseball was in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, it’s believed that the IOC dropped the sport because they wouldn’t follow the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency and Major League Baseball players wouldn’t participate in the Games. Which is too bad, I wanted to see if the US could actually win a World Series.
3. Thomas Bach is the new president of the International Olympic Committee
“Wow, a white guy!” said no one, in surprise. Singapore’s representative, IOC vice president Ng Ser Miang was apparently also a frontrunner. But nope, Bach, a lawyer from Germany, is taking over from Jacques Rogge, a former surgeon from Belgium. The pick is controversial because Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah, head of the Kuwait’s National Olympic Committee, lobbied on his behalf. I think the pick is actually controversial because the German flag is actually a sideways Belgian flag!! That means something, right? Anyway, I don’t believe there’s potential for a Kuwait Olympics because of this, but considering Bach was a fencing gold medalist, it’s likely we’re going to see fencing now and forever as an Olympic sport.