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  • OpEd: Joe Biden Could Be Tokyo Olympics Hero


    (ATR) The new U.S. President plays a role in the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, says Around the Rings Editor Ed Hula in his latest column published in Japanese for the Mainichi Shimbun.

    Here’s the English version.

    Vice President Joe Biden at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver
    (ATR) The last time Joe Biden went to the Olympics he was U.S. vice president, cheering for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

    Ten years later he has the chance to go to his second Games --this time as president, this time to Tokyo. But with the world still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic that seems to be surging without an end, there still are doubts about whether these postponed Olympics can take place. If they do, President Joe Biden could be one of the reasons.

    Japan, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have spent the months since the postponement was declared preparing for an Olympics ruled by coronavirus countermeasures. While Japan may be ready in July, the same may not be the case for other nations, including the U.S., where the virus could still be raging.

    The U.S. is expected to send the biggest team to Tokyo. But that may be moot if the virus is still out of control and Japan is forced to shut its borders to travelers from the U.S. Other nations unable to conquer the virus also could find themselves left out in the cold.

    The U.S., on the other hand, could show the world how to win the battle.

    The pandemic is one of the major reasons Donald Trump lost the Nov. 3 election. Biden’s pledge to fight the virus is one of the reasons Americans elected him.

    Now sulking in defeat, Trump shows little interest in beating back the surge. He remains tied to an all-or-nothing strategy of vaccination, insisting vaccines are just weeks away from distribution. Meanwhile, the surge grows more deadly by the hour.

    Athletes’ training already has been limited by lockdowns and an inability to travel, compounded by their own or their families’ struggles with the virus. The continuing surge threatens to wind back any progress toward a return to normal for athletes hoping to go to Tokyo.

    Biden is assembling a team of experts to lead the way, but the new administration won’t take power until January 20. That’s a long time -- nearly two months more -- for the pandemic to make hundreds of thousands of people ill. And with Trump refusing to accept the results of the election or cooperate with the new Biden team, the challenges may be even more grim when they take control.

    Without expressing anything publicly, Olympic leaders around the world are said to be welcoming the coming change in Washington and what it might mean for safe Games in Tokyo.

    Besides President Biden’s efforts to lead the U.S. out of this bleak winter of sickness, his influence will be felt globally. Biden’s pledge to rejoin the World Health Organization after Trump ordered a divorce should mean a stronger international team to fight the virus and to coordinate the equitable distribution of vaccines when they become available.

    His leadership by example also may encourage safer public behavior, whether it’s wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings or social distancing.

    The gains Biden makes against the virus could make it possible for Americans to travel overseas again. Athletes and spectators could go to Tokyo, a President of the United States among them. His presence would likely be marked as a milestone on the road to recovery from the virus.

    Joe Biden would be a very welcome guest next July in Tokyo.

    Written by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.
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