The International Olympic Committee has turned itself into a reality show. For money and approval from the networks, it has pushed one of its oldest partners off the island.
The shameful ban of wrestling after the 2016 Summer Games is the next logical step since admitting professionals in the 1990’s. Once the Games opened the door for Dream Team basketball types and Grand Slam tennis stars, there was not enough room in the village for old friends like wrestling, which has merely been around for over 2700 years.
Wrestling is a great sport. I covered it for years early in my career, had great respect for the training and intelligence of the athletes. It is also a sport for various body types. The I.O.C. dumped it over the side.
In all its sanctimonious self-promotion, the I.O.C. cites history. But now it is clear. Under Jacques Rogge and his masters from the networks, nothing is sacred. They are not caretakers for so-called Olympic sports. They are hucksters on the corner saying “check it out, check it out.”
I realized that in 2012, the first time I ever watched the Olympics on television after a childhood of following baseball and a working career of being at the Olympics.
When you cover the Games, you don’t watch canned network television. Instead, you eagerly choose to spend a day in the blessed company of weight-lifters and fencers and wrestlers, the odd sports you never see from year to year, but love when you get around the true believers. The I.O.C. was always prattling about being caretakers of these sports, but they were lying to us.
I also noticed in 2012 that the television production involved an endless loop of women’s beach volleyball, the same shot, from a camera held close to the sand -- legs and butts and swinging ponytails. Sure, beach volleyball is great competition among real and deserving athletes, but the I.O.C. was telling us something: it will scuttle old friends, with no conscience. Think of that when they come around again.
I didn’t mean to write this long, but I got carried away. For the real inside look at wrestling and the Olympic movement, please read the column by Mike Moran, the long-time spokesperson for the United States Olympic Committee, still the repository of conscience and tradition. Over to Mike:
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.