Later this month, the Tokyo Olympics will begin. Maybe. First, the entire event was postponed. Then it was back on. Next, in defiance of the Japanese government’s own medical advisors, the organizers stated that venues would be open at 50% capacity, to a maximum of 10,000 for any single event. This opportunity would be for Japanese citizens only. No foreigners allowed. Then yesterday, the 8th of July, 2021, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee announced they were again, not allowing any fans, of any nation, to attend events. The television audience will be the primary witnesses to the drama of the 2020 Tokyo Olmpics.
Welcome to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, if you are an athlete.
2020 Tokyo Olympics – COVID Effect
Apart from the obvious, holding the 2020 Olympics in 2021, how does COVID make these games differ from others, and ultimately what impact does it have?
First, the year does count. Some athletes that would be here are now a year older, out of their prime, and gone. Conversely, that means a newer group of younger cats are in the game now. This reality is the same every Olympics but normally it’s a 4-year roll-over. This one stings if you were hit with the fallout.
Next up is the venue. I have played sports on a field where even the wildlife ignored you. I have played in a packed stadium with the roar of the crowd. These things are two different animals. Like watching hockey on TV then going to a game and realizing it’s a totally different sport in person, so are many of these events when held sans fans. Conversely, only a few can stand up to the pressure of a packed stadium and perform. So with empty venues affecting that, it’s a perfect time to segue into …
Pressure is the next item on the list. The big-P has a long list of great athletes on its victims list. Competitors who succumbed to the pure weight of the Olympics themselves. Add daily (or more) invasive COVID testing to the already prodigious weight of taking what is most likely your once-in-a-lifetime Olympic dream shot is a burden all of them could do without. How many will pressure claim this time that would not have cracked before due to COVID?
COVID itself. How many athletes has the disease already put on the sidelines? How many athletes from areas greatly affected by the disease could not train properly to qualify? How many people would be at the games but are instead on a respirator, long-haul recovery, or have passed away?
So yes, these are games with asterisks. Competitions of the brave, the fortunate, and the driven. And that makes these games all the more impressive in a sense. The athletes here, some without vaccinations, are literally putting their lives on the line, on a daily basis, just to compete. Just to live the Olympic dream.
I believe it’s great news Tokyo is finally going to be behaving in a much more responsible fashion as they are in the midst of a surge. I do believe these Olympics are different than almost any, perhaps all that came before. Yet I have great respect for these athletes and what they have yet to accomplish.
I’ll be watching. Will you?
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on Twitter: Steven Van Over