Common sense says there will be no Olympic Games in Tokyo this year.
The opening ceremony is due to be held on July 24. For a start, who would bet that the coronavirus pandemic will be done and dusted by then? Every medical expert suggests that at best a vaccine would only be available early next year. On health grounds alone, does anyone honestly believe that cramming at least another 100,000 or so people into an already densely populated city is going be feasible?
Even if by some miracle the whole of the world was Covid-19 free by July, how fair is it to sportspeople trying to be at their best for what for most will be the apex of their careers, to go to Tokyo with most of the sporting northern summer wiped off the competitive calendar?
The International Olympic Committee has had some inglorious moments in the past, of which the decision in 1972, against the wishes of the head of the German organising committee, to continue with the Games in Munich less than 36 hours after a Palestinian terrorist group killed 11 Israeli athletes, was one of the most egregious.
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It was the start of a fraught decade in which the Games were wracked by politics, boycotts, and ill-feeling.
In 1976 New Zealand found itself at the epicentre of the turmoil, when the Games in Montreal were scheduled to be held at same time as an All Black side was touring apartheid-era South Africa.
In a remarkable live television show at Auckland Grammar School on June 4, 1976, just two weeks before the All Blacks would fly to South Africa, Nigerian Abraham Ordia, the president of the African council of sport, had made it plain that New Zealand could either tour South Africa or "have the black African countries [at the Games]. It can't have both."
There were efforts to arrange a meeting between Ordia and Prime Minister Rob Muldoon. Muldoon dismissed the idea, saying Ordia was "not a diplomat or a member of a government. He is some sort of sports administrator". At the time one senior member of the New Zealand Rugby Union's council, with a stunning lack of self awareness, described Ordia to me as "the n***** in the woodpile".
Ordia could not have been clearer when asked by interviewer Gordon Dryden at Auckland Grammar, in front of an invited, largely pro-tour audience why he would work for an African boycott in Montreal. "It is the only way to express our indignation at the support for racist sport in South Africa."
Neither Muldoon, nor many in New Zealand, seemed to believe that Ordia actually had any real power to disrupt the Games.
They were wrong. The All Blacks' first game in South Africa was on June 30 in East London. Eighteen days later the opening ceremony of the '76 Montreal Olympics was to be held. In Montreal there were frantic last minute attempts by Ordia and many African nations to have New Zealand banned. Those moves failed.
But, as teams entered the newly built $770 million stadium to begin the Games, journalists started noting down the countries missing from the march past. By the time they'd finished the list contained 29 nations, mostly from Africa, including track powerhouses like Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.
And so it was that fans were not only denied the chance to see all-time greats like Ben Jipcho and Mike Boit from Kenya, but also missed the most eagerly awaited clash in world athletics, between Kiwi John Walker, who 11 months earlier had been the first man to break 3m 50s for the mile, setting a world record of 3m 49.4s, and Tanzania's Filbert Bayi, who held the world record for 1500 metres of 3m 32.2s, which he'd set at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch.
The mantra from Muldoon, and other supporters of the All Black tour would be that politics should play no part in sport. The hypocrisy of Muldoon's stance in '76 was stunningly demonstrated four years later. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 1979, and western nations were under pressure from an outraged American president, Jimmy Carter, to boycott the 1980 Games in Moscow.
There was never a public order to New Zealand athletes from the Muldoon government to not go to the Moscow Games. Instead his government ran a crass, brutally effective, largely covert campaign to stop a New Zealand team competing in Moscow.
Veteran sportswriter Ron Palenski would write that in New Zealand the government's anti-Moscow operation ranged from civil servants being told they might not have jobs when they returned from the Games, to police visiting some of our athletes, warning them they could find themselves receiving letter bombs from outraged patriots if they went to Moscow. "It was," said Palenski, "a dirty business, never before seen in New Zealand sport."
A New Zealand team of 98 was named, but in the end just three kayakers, and Brian Newth, a modern pentathlete, would compete. Amongst those who lost the chance to go was the men's hockey team, which had won gold in Montreal.
Serious attempts were made to make those who were determined to go to Moscow feel like pariahs. In 2017 Newth told the Herald's Phil Taylor how Muldoon's sports minister, Allan Highet, had approached the chief executive of General Foods, who Newth worked for, "asking whether it was in the interests of a major company to employ an individual who was defying the government". Newth received an anonymous threatening letter, which the writer claimed was written in blood, and told Taylor that he kept a loaded rifle in the airing cupboard by his back door.
Newth finished in 40th place in Moscow, but the most successful kayaker, Ian Ferguson, took seventh place in the K1 500 metres, and would go on to become one of our greatest Olympians. This week I talked to Ferguson who still has vivid memories and strong feelings about Moscow.
"Officials like Lance Cross [then the head of the New Zealand Olympic committee] told us they didn't want us to go, and if we did they wouldn't support us. Well, we didn't get any money to help us compete overseas anyway, so we thought, 'stuff you'.
"I'd been to three world championships before Moscow, and paid my own way every time. I used to go to a souvenir shop at the airport and buy some silver ferns, then stitch them on to a black singlet I'd bought."
On his first European campaign Ferguson bought an old Ford Transit van, cut off part of the roof himself, fitted a pop-top, and used it as a camper. The next time around he travelled with his wife Aly and their first child, Alan. "We stayed in camping grounds. Aly and Alan had a big tent and I slept in a pup tent beside them. The small tent leaked, and I remember before one world final it rained, so I'd spent a miserable night in a wet sleeping bag. I didn't go that well the next day."
Ferguson was angry when he and his kayaking team-mates went to the main stadium in Moscow and saw Lance Cross presenting gold medals to a Russian athlete. "He'd told us not to go, but he still went." That was galling, and so was the announcement as the Games began of a huge trade deal between the Soviet Union and New Zealand.
To this day Ferguson firmly believes that competing in Europe, and paddling at the Moscow Games was a huge factor in the stunning success on the water at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. New Zealand kayaking's greatest day came at Lake Casitas, 160km north-west of Los Angeles, when Ferguson won the K1 500 metres, and then 90 minutes later teamed with Paul MacDonald to win the K2 500.
"We had the belief and the confidence, which came from having been to not only world champs, but also to the Games. I still feel sad that [Commonwealth Games gold medal winning swimmer] Rebecca Perrott was denied that chance to swim in Moscow. I'm sure she would have won gold."
The final irony for Ferguson was how, after he'd won three gold medals at the '84 Games, many of the same people who had pressured him to stay away from Moscow wanted to be his best buddy. "I couldn't suddenly like someone who had been doing everything possible to frustrate me at the last Games."
So it isn't anything unusual for the Olympics to be thrown into a state of upheaval. The glimmer of light at the end of the Tokyo tunnel is that history shows no matter what happens in the boardrooms, no matter how much politicians dig their grubby fingers into the Games, the Olympics do survive, and people like Ian Ferguson can live their dream.
That's why I'm one who genuinely hopes the Games can go ahead in Tokyo in July. But the reality is surely that we'll be cheering our sports people on no earlier than 2021.