As I write this, it is 85 days until the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games it set to begin. However, even taking into account the unprecedented events of the past year or so, the lead up to these games has been chaotic to say the least.
Aside from the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and whether international travel will be back to normal enough to allow athletes to even get there. There have been scandals galore—with one senior official stepping down amidst bribery allegations, and, another resigning after his sexist and demeaning comments about a Japanese celebrity caused widespread outrage.
Not the people’s games
Public opinion around the Olympics in Japan has become increasingly negative, with almost 80% in favour of cancelling or postponing the event, with the impact of the pandemic and concerns over costs cited as the biggest factors.
But, one has to wonder whether the results would be different if the Japanese people had any faith in the leadership of those in charge of the nation’s Olympic efforts.
These are genuine challenges, and not just unique to Japan—these are unprecedented times we are living in. It has demanded the highest level of leadership from governments around the world, and we can see the countries that have had their leaders step up...and those that haven’t.
Earned, not given
When the Japanese organisers can’t even get the basics of leadership right you can’t blame people for being sceptical that the organisers are up to the task of finding a way to overcome these extraordinary obstacles. They’ve treated leadership as their right, rather than realising the faith of those who follow you is something that must be earned.
It's a lesson that the captain of any suburban cricket club could have taught them. If you want people to follow you need to put in the hard work to earn their trust, you need—dare I say—runs on the board.
That’s the thing that has marked the great teams, a leader who people will follow in the face of adversity or when things seem insurmountable, because they have proven they deserve it. And, when they’ve lost that trust, it’s very hard to get back.
Long road ahead
It’s sad enough when you see a once great leader struggling to reinstall confidence and belief in their team when they can no longer deliver. The current Olympics organiser never even had that to start with, and it’s hard to see a way forward from here.
David Goodwin is the former Editor of The Salvation Army’s magazine,War Cry. He is also a cricket tragic, and an unapologetic geek.
David Goodwin archive of articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-goodwin.html