When Baron Pierre de Coubertin first began rallying support for the revival of the Olympics in the mid-1890s, after a break of 2289 years, he did not see them as a contest between nations, but rather as an opportunity for individuals to be the best they could be.
"May the Olympic flame shine through all generations to the benefit of a purer and more valiant humanity, with ever higher aspirations," he famously declared.
It was a noble ideal and, despite the inevitable intrusion of national rivalries, is even more relevant and aspirational in the 21st century than it was at the end of the 19th.
This is why, if it is at all possible, the games of the 32nd Olympiad should proceed in Tokyo this July and August, and Australia should make every effort to participate.
Last year's decision to postpone the Games, originally scheduled for 2020, marked only the fourth time in more than 120 years that such a choice had to be made.
The 1916 Berlin games were cancelled due to World War I, the 1940 Tokyo games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II, and the 1944 London games fell by the wayside for the same reason. The 1920 Antwerp games went ahead despite the Spanish Flu epidemic.
While it was inevitable the government's decision to vaccinate the 2000-plus members of the Australian Olympic contingent starting next month was always going to be controversial, the reality is that the government would be damned if it did and damned if it didn't.
And, although it is far from certain the event will actually proceed, given the re-emergence of widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in Japan, that nation's Olympic committee - and its government - deserves both commendation and support for pressing ahead with their attempt to create a rare moment of international unanimity under the most difficult of circumstances.
It would, to say the least, have been very unsporting of this country if it did not make every effort to keep the Olympic torch ablaze by taking all necessary steps, including vaccinating our athletes and officials, to prepare for the event.
While it is unfortunate that significant delays, not all of which can be laid at the feet of the government, in the vaccine rollout means athletes are likely to be vaccinated before the last of our health workers, the aged and the disabled, this is unlikely to lead to widespread delays in anybody getting the jab.
We are, after all, talking about a cohort of just under 2000 people, when just last week primary care clinics alone vaccinated 240,000. It is understood that the vaccinations are to be handled on a contract basis to ensure no additional pressure is placed on the existing public health arrangements.
The government and the Australian Olympic Committee have been confronted with a very difficult, and rapidly evolving, set of circumstances, and appear to be doing the best they can.
The tragedy is that those efforts, and the years of dedication and hard work that have been invested by our proud, and mostly young, Olympic contingent, could all be for nought if the situation in Japan does not improve markedly over the next few weeks.
The country's low vaccination levels, caused in part because it has only approved the use of Pfizer to date, combined with a resurgence in cases, saw the government declare a state of emergency just 88 days out from the Games earlier this week.
Japan's infection and death rates are already among the worst in Asia at more than half a million and 10,000 respectively.
It will be a very sad day for Japan if, for the second time in 81 years, it is forced to cancel a Tokyo Olympics.
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