Boxing qualifiers in London should not have taken place but Olympic chiefs have always put Games first
Forgive us for not being surprised if the International Olympic Committee continues to receive the gold medal for fittingly Olympian levels of remaining out of touch with reality.
Only after the entire world laid down its bats and balls, and shed its boots and bibs, did the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which likes to believe it is a law unto itself – often quite literally – sullenly untie their gloves.
Tolling the final bell for the London boxing qualifiers was the right decision – but ringing it in the first place was entirely wrong.
But if there is one thing more certain than the supercilious boast that every one of its Games is the "best yet" then it is the IOC's doggedly determined, some might say dictatorially delusional, commitment to ensure the mouthing of those intoxicating four words every four summers.
"Let the games begin." And be damned with the consequences.
Always a world-class exponent of the aloof, the arrogant and elitist, the IOC have perfected the art of presuming that everything they do is so beneficial to everyone else that everyone else should simply bow down and be thankful for everything they do.
Except this, in the face of some mighty competition, might be their most egregious transgression yet.
We thought of this on Monday while watching an East Anglian mother-of-three trade blows with an Irishwoman in an almost deserted, cavernous building on the outskirts of London, in another land losing its grip on reality.
Charley-Sian Davison has been out of the ring for seven years now but the returning English champion's southpaw emerged from its own isolation to fairly dismantle the Olympic dreams of Belfast flyweight Carly McNaul.
Here was live sport improbably penetrating our corona-verse cabin-fever existence but, even now belatedly held behind closed doors, we already knew those doors should have been bolted shut.
Up to 350 boxers from close to 50 European nations, including a 13-strong Irish contingent, had been competing for 77 spots at Tokyo 2020 (50 men in eight weight categories; 27 women across five).
Many had made great personal sacrifices to get there; some of them will now not be able to return home for some time, should their nation be one of the many to shut down their borders.
It had been utter folly to ask them to come in the first place.
The risks were so wide-ranging as to be practically sneering in the face of obvious peril and danger but, with a stoicism befitting those Japanese politicians who insist the Olympics will not be moved, the show had to go on. It always does.
Many sports – about 12 in all – had suspended or extended their qualification procedures and even boxing qualifiers have been suspended in other jurisdictions; ironically, the first to do so were the Asians, naturally, given they were due to be held in Wuhan last month. Ireland had a raft of boxers in action – 13 in all – and easily the sport’s most famous Irish amateur, Dubliner Kellie Harrington, was due to begin her quest today in a category now bereft of Katie Taylor’s familiar foe, Delfine Persoon.
It should seem thrilling to see an Irishwoman competing on the big stage on St Patrick’s Day – even with the pubs and clubs closed back home.
But there would have been something jarring about celebrating a lightweight success inside the ring when there are heavyweight battles to be fought outside it.
Franco Falcinelli, the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) president, genuinely fears a boxer will get the virus.
But although this may be his territory, this was not his gig; the qualifiers are run by the IOC Boxing Task Force, something that sounds like the military wing of a nation rather than a sporting body.
Then again, the IOC sees itself as an autonomous entity. It rises above the deliberations of mere nation states and laughs in the face of rampant pandemic.
From Mexico's slain students to kidnappings in Munich, the clearings of the Atlanta slums and the railroading of everyone from Aboriginals to gypsies, perhaps it was only a matter of time until the sharp-suited, sneering indifference penetrated towards the athletes themselves.
The IOC, who stand to make €4bn from the Games, will have the final say on their progress, not Japan, who have already spent €28m.
The greatest show on earth must assemble a cast list by whatever means.
No risk too great for the gods of Olympia, their heads high in the clouds.
Heads that should now hang in shame.