around this time last year when the Olympic countdown clock struck 200 days, athletes around the world poured into training and planning every move towards Tokyo like it was a complex military maneuver. Nothing should be left to chance.
Reports of a contagious virus from China have been of no concern, especially to Olympians, whose focus is so narrow that anything that is of no use to improving performance is discarded. Suffice it to say that the narrative has changed course in a hurry and the games have been postponed to 2021 due to the unprecedented use of the word « unprecedented ». .
On Monday, the countdown to the Games hit 200 days again, but this time the milestone was greeted with questions, fears, reports of nerve-wracking budget shortfalls, and worrying signs of resentment from an Olympic-weary Japanese crowd.
And of course there was the virus. Outside of a few nations, it continues to devastate much of the world, including the great Olympic players in Europe and of course the US, the staggering 350. 000 deaths have exceeded. To make matters worse, a new, more contagious version of the disease is on the run and is spreading like wildfire.
The hosts of Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have long billed this restarted Games as the ultimate symbol of humanity’s triumph over the pandemic. With a breathtaking and barely comprehensible list of logistics, safety and security issues that have yet to be overcome, they should be content with getting them going in the first place.
« The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held this summer, » said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in a New Year’s message. « We will constantly prepare to have a safe tournament. «
There is some good news for the IOC in the form of working vaccines being rolled out in select countries. But that alone won’t help planning much, especially given that athletes are highly unlikely to get short cuts to the top of the queue in front of frontline health workers, the elderly, and those in vulnerable categories. Which is almost everyone.
One thing is clear: these games will not look like we have seen them in the past, or with any luck they will see them again. If there are crowds in the arenas and stadiums, it’s likely just Japanese, which would be a fair reward for the nation’s unfortunate Olympic experience, but takes away some of the partisan atmosphere in which the athletes thrive.
Teams could be encouraged to bring the bare bones of coaches, staff, and officials. And the tradition of staying after your event and enjoying the celebrations seems impossible, as fly-in and fly-out medal missions are almost safe as planners try to keep the number of attendees in a specific location and at one reduce certain point in time.
Media quotas will be drastically reduced if organizations decide that it is even worth sending reporters. For those on deck, social distancing, masks, and staged, risk-averse media opportunities take away so much of the spontaneous color and movement that make a game so unpredictable and unforgettable.
Stars like world champion swimmer Ariarne Titmus have every opportunity to prepare for the relative normality of Australian life. Photo credit: Getty
Even so, a gold medal will still be a gold medal. You don’t have to paint a picture of how everything went, and history still treats Olympic champions (at least most of them) with a degree of awe. That’s why they all strive, many in sports that don’t even offer a fraction of the financial rewards of mainstream professional touring leagues.
And on that front, the vast majority of Australian athletes will come to Tokyo after benefiting from a nation that is virtually COVID-19 free and whose society functions relatively normally. There are no mass closures – as in the UK, for example – and no closings of sports and training facilities.
One of the arguments for giving up Tokyo 2020 was the lack of a relative training field. How could the games possibly be held when some nations are virtually shut down while others operate as normally as the virus allows?
Two hundred days later, for the second time, the scenario is not too far removed from twelve months ago, although elite sport, at least in rich countries, has largely managed to assert itself through the limitations and challenges of pandemic life.
Even with the occasional group and torch, Australian athletes can count themselves among the happiest in the world as they prepare for a brief jump to Japan in just over six months, a nation in a convenient location and time zone that is useful given the chances of a successful mission to Tokyo.
Aside from another Victorian-style breakout, our swimmers and athletes, as well as cyclists, rowers and sailors, have all had plausible benefits in fine-tuning their Olympic preps. Should they succeed, even the strangest games would be thrown on the home front as the triumph of the ages.
Sports, results, and expert comments are delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for the Herald’s weekday newsletter here and for The Age’s weekly newsletter here.
Summer Olympics 2020, Summer Olympics, Tokyo, 2021, International Olympic Committee
World news – AU – The longest 200 days: The organizers of Tokyo are facing a mammoth task
Donnez votre point de vue et aboonez-vous!
Votre point de vue compte, donnez votre avis
[maxbutton id= »1″]