Are the Tokyo Olympics Cursed?

Canceled in 1940 and Postponed for 2020, Japan’s Bad Luck Highlights a Bigger Problem Plaguing the Games: Outsized Ambition and Subpar Leadership

This spring, as the coronavirus pandemic flared across the globe, pressure mounted on Olympics organizers to cancel or postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games. At first, the International Olympic Committee, the group of 100 members that oversees the Olympics, sashayed ahead with its plans with seeming nonchalance. As late as March, IOC President Thomas Bach brayed that members hadn’t so much as uttered the words “postponement” or “cancellation.”

But pressure from athletes and national sport bodies finally forced Bach’s hand. Olympians—including big-name stars like U.S. decathlete Ashton Eaton, reigning Olympic pole …