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KT edit: Olympics spirit takes podium at Tokyo 2020

Filed on July 25, 2021
Reuters

The island nation defied the odds and the sceptics who had written off the Games and the Olympic movement itself. The wait, however, has been worth it.


The spirit of the Olympics shines in Tokyo though spectators will miss the live action due to stringent Covid-19 protocols. Athletes will compete and move around in a bubble for their safety. Alas, that’s the sobering reality of this tragic pandemic era in history, but Japan deserves a round of applause and global support for going ahead with the Games despite early snafus and last year’s pandemic-induced delay. The island nation defied the odds and the sceptics who had written off the Games and the Olympic movement itself. The wait, however, has been worth it. One global newspaper had even questioned the relevance of the Games with people staying glued to their screens while cowering in fear from the coronavirus. It is also true that the Games didn’t stay within the estimated budget of $7.4 billion and shot up to $15.4 billion. All that for a no-show from spectators and 11,000 athletes! ‘Why is this even happening?’ was being brandished as the new motto.

Critics bludgeoned the Japanese government on the futility of the infrastructure when the world stares at a health and economic crisis. In normal times, the noise from spectators would have been deafening when athletes take the field. Recorded chants of crowds will be a poor substitute in these sub-normal times yet will suffice in the pursuit of medals for national pride. The opening ceremony was less spectacular than previous versions. For some athletes it was a lonely affair with a crowd of 1,000, mostly comprised of officials. As the Games progress, there will be no mingling among sportspersons and fans; celebrations will be muted outside stadiums and sporting venues. Yet, all will be forgiven when the winning begins and the medals pile up.

Now that the Games are well and truly under way, we have been provided an opportunity to enjoy sport and watch athletes break records as they go ‘faster, higher and stronger’. Indeed, the Olympics serve as inspiration that we can do better and get stronger after this pandemic. Covid has been sidelined, albeit briefly, for 14 days, in the quest for individual and national glory. That’s the message from these Tokyo Games that is being staged during a great global tragedy that continues to unfold as vaccines hit their mark. These Olympics will take our mind off the pandemic, and the movement deserves our commitment and support.





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