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Games like no others | Perspectives on the Olympics past and present

When the coronavirus pandemic forced Tokyo last year to delay the Summer Olympics to July 2021, organizers kept the Tokyo 2020 name, saying they wanted the event to be seen as a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Covid-19 is still spreading but the games are going ahead, in what would be the biggest world event of the pandemic era. But they are almost certain to look like no other Olympics, with no spectators from abroad and uncertainty as to whether even fans in Japan will be allowed in. Concern is growing that the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes, journalists, officials, and other Games-related staff could trigger a fresh wave of infections, despite reassurances by organizers that they have taken steps to ensure a safe and secure event.

On the other hand, there are the emotions of many of the athletes and coaches who have been preparing their whole lives for this unique opportunity to compete on the largest and most visible sports stage.

Our global panel includes former and current Olympians and journalists to bring us closer to the spirit of the competition, the effort that goes into preparations, and the type of experience they anticipate in Japan.

Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi 

The Olympic games are at the core of international sporting events but the pandemic has disabled organizing them. Even though there are many perspectives about the future, the Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo this year, amid concerns of the current pandemic. The organizers of the event said they wanted the event to be a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Despite the current spread of Covid-19, the games are going ahead, in what will be the biggest world event of the pandemic era. The event is almost certain to look like no other Olympics, with no spectators from abroad and uncertainty as to whether fans in Japan will be allowed in. Concern is growing that the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes, journalists, officials, and other games-related staff could trigger a fresh wave of infections, despite reassurances by organizers that they have taken steps to ensure a safe and secure event. But the athletes and coaches have been preparing their whole lives for this unique opportunity to compete on the largest and most visible sports stage.
Playing games without the audience is a totally different experience. Athletes love the audience, the public, and the interaction with them. Since the current restrictions don’t allow the audience, the focus will be put on the team, even though Olympics are the time to meet again. Another problem with the upcoming games is that the pandemic caused an influx of restrictions for international sports journalists. Journalists will not be able to cover the events at their arenas since they must be socially distanced. At the same time, the press is limited and many journalists cannot afford the cost of traveling, especially the freelancers. 

The Olympics are typically an incredible experience. In previous years, the world came together for the Olympics. This year, after isolation, people will come together again in the name of sports, and they will likely find a sense of unity. Despite the lack of spectators at this year’s events, athletes are used to be restricted to reach their goals and perform. An athlete needs to be focused on their goal. In Southeast Asia, the pandemic and shifting political situations in many countries have prevented athletes from properly training for the upcoming games. Sports must go on, but with concern for greater public health. Japan is pressing the panic button; they are at a state of emergency. People are afraid due to the increasing COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks. 

At last, Japan needs first to comfort and attend to their citizens needs. The Olympics are about human connection, interactivity, and solidarity, so we look forward to the experience of being connected with the opponents, the teams, and the coaches this year. 



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