Tokyo Olympics Update: Ethics Lessons From The Losers


I’m not going to watch a second of these ethically offensive Olympics—it will just encourage them. But like most big, complex, messy human endeavors, the Tokyo Olympics has triggered some interesting ethics issues. Ethics Alarms has discussed some of them; here are some others:

I. The Transgender Weightlifter

Laurel Hubbard, the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics and was generally assumed to be the likely winner since she was a 43 year-old former male competing against young women who had never had the advantage of going through puberty and training while male, was eliminated. She failed to record a single lift in three attempts in Monday’s over-87-kilogram super-heavyweights competition. That’s terrific, since she shouldn’t have been competing at all, but it’s also just moral luck. It doesn’t change the ethics equation in any way.

She had an unfair and artificial biological advantage, and only cowardice in the face of the Woke Army could account for the Olympics allowing her to take her obviously un-female assets (above) into a female competition. This is wrong, and undermines women’s sports, but I feel like it should be obvious, and Ethics Alarms has discussed the issue thoroughly already. New Zealand was wrong to permit her to represent it in the Games; Hubbard was wrong to compete. Women and feminists are foolish to ally themselves with the trans activists who are undermining women’s sports.

It was nostalgic, I must admit, to have the reminder of the mysterious Press sisters, the oddly androgynous Soviet Olympians who set 26 world records between 1959 and 1966 and retired abruptly when the Olympics started checking under female competitors’ genes.

Press sisters

We never found out whether the Press sisters were altered or disguised males, intersex, or women who had been shot up with more male hormones than Arnold Schwarzenegger. But everyone in America knew that having the compete against our female athletes was typical Russian cheating. Good times, good times…

2. The Weird Case Of Novak Djokovic’s Inconvenient Truth

I clearly don’t pay enough attention to tennis or star athletes whose names I can’t spell or pronounce, because I missed this whole controversy until it was virtually over. (Thanks to old friend Howard Spendelow for the pointer)

Novak Djokovic, one of the world’s most successful tennis players, flopped in these Olympics, losing in the semifinals of both men’s singles and mixed doubles. The Serb also thoroughly disgraced himself with an on-court tantrum of the sort that would get a high school player kicked off the JV team. This apparently pre-marinated him for easy abuse, because when he was asked by a reporter after his third-round match about handling the pressure of seeking a ‘”Calendar Golden Slam”—meaning a series of tournament championships that included an Olympics gold medal in singles—Djokovic’s answer was immediately used to have him “cancelled.” He said, “Without pressure there is no professional sport. If you are aiming to be at the top of the game you better start learning how to deal with pressure. And how to cope with those moments on the court but also off the court, all the expectations.”

The Horror. Of course, Djokovic had to be taking a swipe at poor, helpless, “twisting” Simone Biles, who had just attributed her inability to compete in Olympic gymnastic events to the burdens of “pressure,” despite, or perhaps because, of being the “Greatest Of All Time.” Since she is small, female (and, I fear, black), Biles had been immediately defended by a series of narratives cooked up by woke journalists, desperate fans, and her PR team. Djokovic’s words seemed to undermine the effort, and thus the same Biles defenders pounced on him for intending his answer to accomplish that goal.

Social media especially was awash in Djokovik hate. Musician Ricky Davilla’s tweet was typical:

Davilla tweet

To the perpetually outraged and Protectors of the Oppressed (like multi-millionaire quitter Biles), it mattered not one whit that the question posed to Novak Djokovic didn’t ask him to comment on Simone’s lament. He didn’t mention Biles, nor reference her. Never mind. He was obviously attacking the defenseless young athlete as well as those who suffer with mental illness.

Eventually this all got sorted out, but not before a lot more people absorbed the rumor, gossip and lies as truth than whoever caught the “Never mind!” memo. “Novak Djokovic simply fell victim to being in the wrong place and saying the right thing, but at the wrong time,” concluded one commentator.

Here is what I find fascinating: it was indeed the right thing, and there was every reason in the world to apply it to Simone Biles. Djokovic’s statement does apply to her. It also aptly explains why the instant sympathy she received for attributing her evident choke to the ravages of “pressure” was a double standard, a nauseating example of infantalizing women, and feminist hypocrisy. The back-tracking mob withdrawal from vilifying the tennis star by saying, “Oh! He was only talking about himself and other superstars generally! That’s OK then!” is deliberately dishonest, or, if Hanlon’s Razor applies, deluded. If his point is astute, and it is, and if it applies to him, which it does, Djokovic’s observation also applies to Simone Biles, and it should.

The truth doesn’t become untrue because it reveals the flaws of public idols.

3.Schadenfreude, Hubris and the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team

The look I got from my next door neighbor when I expressed satisfaction at the defeat of Megan Rapinoe and company would have been appropriate if I had announced the consuming of my wife for lunch. Nonetheless, I refuse to feel guilty about it. I am Greek, and my ancestors’ dramas and myths were stuffed with cautionary tales about hubris, none of which the obnoxious and smug members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team apparent studied or absorbed. These athletes have been going around the world insulting and denigrating the nation they are supposed to represent, protesting during our National Anthem, all while falsely claiming to be victims of discrimination themselves. The effectiveness of their grandstanding as well as their contrived pose as unappreciated casualties of sexism depended upon their continued status as winners. The team, and Rapinoe particularly, made their efforts about politics rather than sport, and asked to be judged on that basis. Well, their politics are ill-informed and anti-American, and on that basis, their humiliation in the Olympics was well-earned. Sophocles would have loved it.

18 thoughts on “Tokyo Olympics Update: Ethics Lessons From The Losers

  1. 2. When speaking of people reacting harshly to a critical comment not directed at them, but incidentally applying to them nonetheless, my grandma used to say, “A hit dog will holler.” There’s a lot of hollering going on these days.

  2. In simpler times, I was a fan of the women’s soccer team, even though I care not a whit about anything to do with soccer. In the present, I cannot summon any regret that they lost. I also cannot help but think that as professional athletes, they might have been too busy advancing their ideology to remember to ply their trade.

    Everyone has off days — but it appears that the USWNT has had an off summer. Not the sort of thing that is supposed to happen to professionals and, I can’t help but think, the sort of thing that would almost never happen to a professional baseball team.

    Even the Texas Rangers, who are down amongst the bottom tier of MLB this year are professionals. I don’t ever expect to see them acting in any other fashion.

    • I also cannot help but think that as professional athletes, they might have been too busy advancing their ideology to remember to ply their trade.


      I wonder whether there’s underlying tension on such a team between the aggressively radical lesbians and the cisgendered (is that the right word?) or even the other lesbian women who may simply want to accel at their sport and win games. Rapinoe’s being in the spotlight all the time must grate on at least some of her teammates to some extent.

  3. You know, I started to lose interest in the Olympics after Atlanta 1996, when I had kind of had enough. I’d watch the opening ceremonies, sometimes this or that event, but that’s about it. I started to dislike the Winter Olympics after 2002, when I only really paid attention because of the (manufactured) drama surrounding a nation newly at war hosting the Olympics and the supposed ékécheiria peace (really just a safe conduct). To a single man unentranced by figure skating all they did was get in the way of new episodes of whatever crime dramas I was following for two weeks, sometimes extended to five or six because “March Madness” sometimes came right after. Still, I had respect for the athletes who trained hard, traveled far, sometimes overcame adversity, proudly represented their country, and brought home the gold and silver. Obviously this is after the end of the Soviet Union and the end of the eastern bloc’s barely concealed cheating to prove the supposed superiority of the Communist way of doing things, which the Olympic authorities looked the other way on or shrugged at.

    I pretty much quit entirely in 2018, where coverage turned from the athletes’ efforts, achievements, and victories to their personal struggles, and focused disproportionately on those who were outspoken about their hatred of Trump/Pence (of course Pence was the senior US official there) and wanted to ape Krappernick on the medal podium. Some got that far. Others not. Gay figure skater Adam Rippon, who only got as far as the bronze medal before going on Dancing With The Stars and fading into obscurity soon after, stands out. Nonetheless we still had to hear their ranting. We’ll still have to hear Megan Rapinoe’s garbage, even though the chance of that team bringing home a medal is down to 50% and if they do it will be a loser medal. This time, of course, the athletic community is 100% on board with BLM and all the other woke causes.

    Here’s the thing: The Toledan smiths used to say, “Un fuego más caliente no hace una mejor espada.” There is also a saying among the Italian light infantry that “La fede non rende la mano più ferma.” I think I also heard a Russian saying that “Pravednik ne obyazatel’no prav.” The bottom line is these sayings all mean that being passionate is no substitute for skill. Being angry can actually get in your way if it makes your hand shake as you aim your weapon. Frankly a compelling story about how you got here is secondary to do you or don’t you accomplish what you came here to accomplish. I said before that we were institutionalizing incompetence. Now we’re institutionalizing anger over skill.

  4. Regarding #2, it’s sadly not about the message, but the messenger. Had the roles been reversed, Biles would be heralded as an example of grit and toughness, while Djokovic would be ridiculed as a quitter.

  5. Laurel Hubbard was an interesting case. She should not have been allowed to compete.

    One of the side effects of transitioning male to female is that the transitioner’s tendons and ligaments lose some elasticity and get really brittle. So it should have been relatively unsurprising when Hubbard suffered a catastrophic elbow injury at the commonwealth games in 2018 (There’s video, don’t watch it, it’s graphic). part of her recovery program was that she was supposed to go off of female hormones and take some androgens so her body might actually have a chance at getting function back.

    The reason I say that she shouldn’t have been allowed to compete is because she did complete that recovery program, and she did take androgens. The IOC guidelines are that trans competitors need to be regularly tested and test below a certain amount of androgens for two years prior to competition (That amount is contentious, it’s still about 10 times what a woman would naturally have, but the argument is that androgens alone don’t give the advantage, they’re a symptom of the processes that do, and that level over that time is sufficient.), Hubbard obviously didn’t do that. She couldn’t. As far as I can tell, Hubbard only submitted to a years worth of testing before qualifying.

    Full disclosure: The trans lobby still wasn’t happy with “allowed to compete after two years of testing”. Their arguments are that the science is out on the timeframe that natural advantage actually mitigates, and that the rules are fickle: The IOC regularly changes their policy, and meanwhile, these people are submitting to tests and processes that might not even get them to competition.

    But none of that is really material… Whether you think the rules are arbitrary or unfair, the rules are the rules… Right?

    Except Hubbard did not submit androgen testing to the IOC. So why was she even there?

    • Thin from earlier today (I kid you not). From eonline article:

      “On Monday, Aug. 2, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history as the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Olympics. Though the 43-year-old finished the +87 kg competition early after not being able to register a snatch, …”

      It did not say what weight he/she missed at. 87kg is the weight class (191lb to us Yanks).

  6. As we draw near to the end of the biannual Olympic hoopla I have two observations.
    1. I am an avid originist. The Olympiad’s purpose was to see who were the best in warfighting skills. Therefore, I see no value in such events as ping pong, dancing with ribbons, basketball, beach volleyball ( BTW why are the feminist not objecting to the required bikini costume which objectifies the “players” as sexual objects- this is not a sport but an opportunity for the gratification of voyeurs.) The list goes on.
    2. I am an avid objectiveist. i am only interested in events that have an objective measurable outcome. Who runs. swims the fastest, who jumps the highest, who throws things the longest, who lifts the heaviest. Events that are decided by the application of subjective opinions of judges whose criteria for judgment is based on some gnostic mysticism should be eliminated. Here I speak of gymnastics and the like.
    “Faster, higher, longer, and stronger” was once the motto of the Olympics. It has been sadly abandoned.

    • High performance athletes are genetic freaks. At my advanced age, never having been one, I’m just not very interested in watching them do what they can do. Life’s too short.

    • It’s exciting to watch, takes incredible skill and athleticism, and lends itself very well to live, timed competition. An excellent choice for an Olympic sport IMHO. More accessible than, say, figure skating or synchronized swimming. Long overdue, really. Also, not sure why anyone would care, but it’s mostly Asians who breakdance these days. Already a fairly long history as a multicultural pastime. Check out any existing competition on YouTube, it’s practically musical floor gymnastics.

  7. 2. Talk about fragility. It’s always about black people. To turn a nasty, snarky term popular among the woke (eg., HRC) these days, I guess white people are living rent free in black people’s heads.

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