TOKYO (AP) – These are the Olympics like no other – and the Tokyo Games surely are – but it is an event that has persevered through wars, boycotts and now a pandemic over the years. 125 years of modern history.
The Tokyo Olympics have already broken new ground due to the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, pushing it for the first time into an odd year. But without fans authorized in Japan, foreign or local, it has the distinction of being the first Games without spectators.
“We are in uncharted territory,” said Steve Wilson, the former president of the Olympic Journalists Association who covered the Olympic movement for the Associated Press for nearly three decades until 2017.
“It will be a Games without the carnival atmosphere, celebration and fun that we have come to expect and look forward to. Definitely one for the history books.
However, there have been many other unusual editions of the Olympics in the past. The United States and many of its allies boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviets and many of their allies reciprocated four years later by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Dozens of countries, mostly African, boycotted the 1976 Montreal Games to protest New Zealand’s sporting ties to the South African apartheid regime. South Africa was banned from competition from 1964 to 1988 due to apartheid.
World War I and World War II forced the Olympic Games to be canceled altogether, so there were no Games of 1916, 1940 or 1944. Separate Winter Olympics did not exist at the time of the First. World War, but World War II forced the cancellation of two of them.
The 1940 Games were to be held in Tokyo, but upon returning from the 1948 Olympics, London was chosen as the host. Tokyo had to wait until 1964 to host the Games for the first time.
And then there was 1920, the Olympic Games held in Antwerp, Belgium, which took place as the world emerged from both World War I and an influenza pandemic that killed over 50 million people. people.
“In the shortest possible time, they organized the Games, but it was a relatively improvised Games,” Roland Renson, a Belgian sports historian, told the AP last year. “They had to do it with the means at their disposal, and at the time they were far from abundant in a city so badly affected by the war.”
The coronavirus pandemic has even affected Antwerp’s centenary, forcing last year’s celebrations to be canceled.
Another strange Olympic event occurred at the Melbourne Games of 1956, when the equestrian events were held in Stockholm due to animal quarantine regulations in Australia.
And then there is the Athens Olympics of 1906, or perhaps the absence of the Olympics of 1906.
Originally called the “Athens International Olympics” and sanctioned by the IOC, they are now known as the 1906 Interleaved (or Intermediate) Games – held midway between the normal four-year Olympic cycle. . They were deemed unofficial in 1949, according to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky.
Tragedy also marked the Olympics, most notably when 11 members of the Israeli team were murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September at the Munich Games in 1972 and when a bomb exploded in the Olympic Park at the Atlanta Games. in 1996.
Other host cities have refused the right to host the Games. The 1908 Olympics, for example, were originally awarded to Rome, but they were moved to London after the eruption of Vesuvius because the Italian government decided that its financial resources would be better spent on rebuilding Naples.
Rome finally hosted the Games in 1960.
One of the Olympic Games in particular has a particularly controversial past: the 1936 Games in Berlin. Although the Games were awarded about two years before Adolf Hitler became dictator, they were held under Nazism. Jesse Owens, a big African American on the track, won four gold medals, but he was supposed to compete in just three events, the 100-meter, the 200-meter and the long jump.
Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller were two of the alleged members of the 4 × 100-meter relay team. They were replaced by Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, who won the race alongside Frank Wykoff and Foy Draper in world record time.
“What made the situation ugly,” Wallechinsky wrote in “The Complete Book of the Olympics” in 2012, “was that Stoller and Glickman were the only Jews on the American track team, and they returned. in the United States as the only members of the team that did not compete.