“There is no question that the Tokyo Olympics stripped the lacquer off the wider Olympic project for everyday people to see,” said Jules Boykoff, a former Olympic soccer player and an expert in sports politics at Pacific University. “I’ve heard some people talk about how the Olympics are this huge political economic force with sports attached to the side of it.”
Indeed, athletes’ advocates have accused the I.O.C. of shortchanging the talent that make the Games possible, given that such a small sliver of the organization’s revenues are allocated directly to the competitors. Most of the funds are funneled through national Olympic committees and sporting federations, according to an analysis of I.O.C. funding by Global Athlete, an athletes’ group, and the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The I.O.C. “is supporting an industry and administrators,” said Rob Koehler, the director general of Global Athlete. “But are they supporting athletes? The proof is in the pudding: no.”
At the Tokyo Games, critics questioned the I.O.C.’s commitment to enforcing disciplinary actions. Athletes from Russia, a country officially banned from the Olympics, competed under the banner of R.O.C., the acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee. But it was difficult for a casual observer to see how Russia was bearing any real consequences of an enormous state-orchestrated doping campaign as its leaders gloated over its athletes’ many medals.
On Sunday, even as Tokyo organizers officially passed the Olympic flag to Paris for the next Summer Games, the real specter lurking behind the feel-good moments was the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which are scheduled to open in February.
With the postponement of the Tokyo Games by a year, organizers will have just six months to prepare for the next Olympics.