When the Olympics got underway two weeks ago, the games were derisively referred to by some as “the woke Olympics.” Happily, the event has not lived up to that billing.
Yes, there has been wokery, but almost all of it on the periphery. Before the Olympics began, three officials were booted for having once made less than sensitive comments — a Holocaust joke in 1998, childhood bullying allegations, and a fat joke made during a private conversation. Ridiculous.
NBC’s coverage of the game has also exhibited mild wokery. The efforts to portray Simone Biles as heroic for not competing arguably falls in that category. An athlete who is unable to participate due to a physical or mental condition deserves our sympathy, but not our plaudits.
In addition, many of the television ads strike me as at least vaguely woke. Or they did before I stopped watching them.
However, if we focus, as we should, on the athletes, these Olympics don’t seem woke at all. The American athletes I’ve seen (mostly in swimming and track, but in some other events too) almost uniformly seem thrilled to representing the U.S. Whether it’s a teenage swimmer or 32 year-old multi-multi-millionaire Kevin Durant competing in his third Olympics, they all want to drape themselves in the American flag when they medal.
The athletes aren’t visibly protesting anything. If they have any non-sports commentary to offer after successfully competing, it’s likely to be “all glory to God,” not “black lives matter.” In fact, I haven’t heard the latter slogan uttered at all in the many hours I’ve spent watching the Olympics.
In this respect, and also in terms of the exemplary sportsmanship of most American athletes, these games remind of the last Tokyo Summer Olympics in 1964, not the ones held four years later in Mexico City — remembered for some black athletes raising their fists in protest.
There’s a good reason for the difference. Today’s America is nothing like 1968 in terms of race relations. The athletes competing in Tokyo this year weren’t around 53 years ago, but despite the efforts of woke American educators, they seem to understand this reality very well.
I guess there is reason for hope, after all.
These Olympics did not offend my sensibilities. At their essence, they were an old-fashioned version of the games, not a woke one.