The Tokyo Olympics is getting into its final phase this week and the rush for gold medals is beginning to reach a fever pitch. The nations leading the medal tally are China, the U.S., and Japan. As of August 5, China leads with 34 gold medals while the U.S. trails with 29. Japan has won 22 gold medals.
The current geopolitical situation between communist China and the U.S. is closely reflected in the Games. The modern Olympic Games have a history that extends to more than a century. It was only in 1984 when the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, that China won its first medal. Two decades later in the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing, China toppled the U.S. from its dominant position with 48 gold medals; America earned only 36.
In 2012 and 2016, the United States reclaimed its number one position. But the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is a close competition between the two superpowers. This year featured some of the most unexpected twists, much of it attributed to COVID-19. As some elite athletes failed COVID-19 testing, it has been a challenge to predict the results of the Tokyo Olympics.
The silver lining in the 2020 games is that the U.S. can still overcome China’s gold medal tally in the last few days. For the total number of medals, America leads China, 91 to 74.
In a write-up at The National Interest, Graham T Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, states that the Tokyo Olympics reflects communist China’s steady rise in the international arena over the past decades.
Communist China had been categorized as a developing country and was given membership to the World Trade Organization on the terms established for developing economies in the early 2000s. Communist China has since grown to the extent that it significantly influences the world economy. The communist regime has become a serious contender to the U.S. regarding geopolitical influence, technological advances, and even military prowess.
“In core geopolitical rivalries… including GDP, relative military capabilities for potential conflicts (for example, over Taiwan), or leadership in frontier technologies like AI, if China succeeds in winning gold medals that we should have, the consequences for the American economy, American security, and the American-led international order will be profoundly negative,” Allison warns.