As if President Donald Trump hasn’t angered enough people, Trump is now angering the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and supporters of the Olympic movement. That’s because Trump, in an early-morning Twitter rant, threatened to force the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to boycott the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan if Tokyo Olympic organizers ran the Olympic torch through Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki, two Japanese cities that the U.S. military dropped nuclear weapons on during World War II in order to force Japan to surrender to the United States.
In an extended Twitter rant, Trump called the IOC “a globalist mafia that hates America”, accused the Tokyo Olympic organizers of “attacking America’s military superiority”, called the Japanese people “total losers”, and called members of the U.S. Olympic team “unpatriotic”.
Trump was quickly criticized by Democratic Party elected officials and leaders, current and former Olympic athletes, virtually everyone associated with the NBC television network, virtually every significant public figure in Japan, and the entire IOC, although many Republicans, including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) are defending Trump’s Olympic boycott threat, and the USOC has not issued any statement regarding the boycott threat.
Every single Democratic Caucus member in each house of Congress signed a letter, written by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), calling for Trump to “immediately renounce his asinine Olympic boycott threat” and “immediately apologize to the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Olympic organizers, and the people of Japan for impugning the Olympic movement”. The letter did not call for Trump to apologize for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings on behalf of the United States, although the letter did note that the Olympics are “a major component of America’s reputation worldwide”. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who himself led a multi-nation boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow over the then-Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, said that he saw “no justification whatsoever” for a Tokyo Olympic boycott.
Many current and former Olympic athletes are extremely angry at Trump over his boycott threat. U.S. Olympic swimmer Lilly King, who famously defeated Russian swimmer Yuliya Yefimova for individual gold in Rio in 2016, criticized the proposed boycott and suggested that Trump is afraid that she might defeat the Russians again. Even current and former Olympic athletes who are politically conservative, such as decorated former Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton and decorated Olympic shooter Kim Rhode, were livid at the thought of Trump boycotting the Tokyo Olympics over a war that ended over seven decades ago, with Retton saying that it will probably be the only time in her life that she’ll criticize a Republican elected official.
Beyond U.S. politicians and Olympic athletes, Trump is getting a ton of pushback from every corner of the globe, particularly those with a stake in Tokyo Olympics in some form. Longtime NBC Olympic anchor Bob Costas, who will not be the primetime NBC anchor for future Olympic telecasts for reasons unrelated to the Trump boycott threat, said that Trump “was acting like a strongman from a country like North Korea” instead of “acting like what would be expected of an American leader”. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he hoped that a “bully” like Trump would not damper the Olympic spirit in Japan and worldwide, but he also said that he fears that Trump has become “too irrational”. One member of the IOC from a European country who refused to publicly disclose his or her name went as far as to compare Trump’s boycott threat to the 1972 Munich Massacre, and all other members of the IOC have also criticized the boycott threat.
Long story short, if destroying a country’s reputation was an Olympic sport, Trump would be an Olympic gold medalist.