Tweeting from her Toronto couch two weeks ago, six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser had two words for the International Olympic Committee, which had yet to postpone the Tokyo Summer Games amid the coronavirus pandemic: “Insensitive and irresponsible.”
Days later the IOC acquiesced, delaying the Olympics until July 2021 and sparking what some say could be a permanent shift in power away from the hierarchical governing body to athletes.
As the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, sponsors and broadcasters with millions of dollars on the line stayed mostly silent about the timing of the Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled to open in July. Sports federations simply said they would take their lead from the IOC. The vast majority of nations bided their time.
Athletes were the first voices to really alert the world to how tone deaf the IOC was being.
The fact that the IOC and Japan decided to postpone has a lot to do with the fact that athletes spoke out and clearly told their stories. It somehow made it real.