Many world leaders are seeking to inspire the confidence of their people by taking the opportunity afforded by the delay in the start of the games to master a sport and bring the glory of a gold medal home to their beleaguered country. Kim Jong-un is no great shakes as an archer or javelin thrower but is lobbying for rules changes to these sports which will allow him to substitute the missiles he enjoys shooting off in all directions.
Vladimir Putin, never adverse to being seen shirtless, is warming up for future boxing competitions with uppercuts to a small punching bag labelled “Ukraine” and left hooks to a larger one labelled “Democratic Elections.” And Benjamin Netanyahu is already using his customary fancy footwork (and possibly a few discreet bribes) not only to escape criminal prosecution and remain prime minister of Israel but also to win the gold medal for ice dancing.
Pierre Trudeau has been diligently using his elbows rather than hands to push open doors, press down their handles if they do not open, ring door bells when the door stays locked and tap the buttons to change channels on his TV remote. This is presented officially as conscientiousness on Trudeau’s part although he does not disclose that he ever turns off the CBC. In reality, however, Trudeau is girding up for the return of ice hockey when his stronger, sharper elbows will allow him to become Team Canada’s enforcer. Trudeau believes that seeing him escorted to the penalty box after bench-clearing brawls will restore Canada’s image as a world power. It also means fewer teeth and less appealing smiles for his political opponents.
Although not exactly world leaders, Prince Harry and Meaghan see a future Olympics as a place to regain stature and financial wherewithal. Harry, with his British heritage, is keen on soccer. With acting lessons from Meaghan, he has been perfecting that staple of the game as it is played on the loftiest international level, diving onto the turf in faux agony in order to draw fouls. Traditionally this gambit has required some semblance of contact with an opposing player, but with social distancing Harry employs it whenever anyone, even a child, approaches with seventy three inches of his formerly royal person. Unfortunately, for reasons having nothing to do with the virus, few children, adults or even household pets have been approaching at this or any distance since Harry’s renunciation.
Meaghan, on the other hand, rather fancies tennis. She hits backhands and forehands for hours against a backboard exported from Wimbledon on which Cy Twombly has painted a likeness of Queen Elizabeth. Meaghan has been assured by medical professionals that it is acceptable to shake hands with the racket and hand sanitizes the ball after each of the many times she bounces it (in emulation of Novak Djokovic) before serving.
Do not fear, America. President Trump may lag on the virus but not on Olympic sports preparation. To be sure, sports requiring teamwork, or indeed an actual team of any sort, are not exactly the President’s forte. Nor can one visualize our leader pursuing any sport that involves getting into a kayak, onto a horse, or up a rock-climbing wall.
But never count out the Donald. There is always sumo wrestling, an activity for which he appears to have spent years grooming his physique. In the President’s words, “The fake news media will never report it, but I will be the best just as I am at anything I pay attention to while watching Fox News. Bringing the gold medal to our shores so it can be hung at the trophy wall at Mar-A-Lago will mean a lot to the Americans I care about. It will let China, Japan and all those yellow countries out there in the Pacific Ocean who export cheap electronics and viruses into the USA know who is boss. The only reason I might not win is because the results have already been rigged and Obama and Adam Schiff ordered the wrong exercise equipment for the White House gym.”