Olympian2004 Posted August 8, 2021 Report Share Posted August 8, 2021 And now it has come to this: 16 days have flown by, as usual, and the Tokyo 2020 Games which took place in 2021 will be coming to a close about 12 hours from now. So, in order to continue the tradition, I am very curious about your verdict about these Olympic Games. Here are my two pennies worth: The organisation and atmosphere Of course this is a tough verdict to make - not only because (like everyone of you, I suppose) I watched the Games only from home but also because these Games took place under extraordinary circumstances. There was almost no crowd that could cheer and applaud for the athletes, there was hardly a glimpse (even for the TV viewer) into the host country and how it soaked up the Olympic atmosphere (or not), there were just venues and athletes, officials and the logistics and staff to make the Games work. But judging by what I heard and read from people who were able to witness the Games in person, they were truly impressed by the quality of the venues, the organisation and (when they were able to meet Japanese people in person at all) the friendliness and kindness of the hosts. And I must say that the athletic performances made it surprisingly easy most of the time to forget that hardly any audience was present at the venues. But I can hardly imagine how odd it must have felt for the Japanese to play host to a sports event they could mostly watch only from a distance. We all know about the large opposition in Japan against staging these Games at all or at least in this moment of time - and I have nothing but respect for Japan that they were forced to stage the Games due to the will of the IOC and their own government, had to swallow their fear or anger and still helped to make these Games a relative success, under these tough circumstances. Of course: These Games are still facing a rather mixed response in the Japanese population even despite the mostly smooth organisation and the many Japanese medals, but this could have turned out so much worse. I guess the IOC can call itself lucky to have awarded these difficult Games to Japan where protests traditionally tend to be not too big and too controversial or even violent. There were still clear downsides, though: The hot and humid weather was a problem to many athletes, it harmed many of their performances and even posed a serious risk to their health. In 1964, the organisers of the first Tokyo Games still were honest enough to stage the Games in October. 57 years later, we have to deal with an organising committee which already claimed in its bid that July and August are a pleasant time for world-class sports activities in Tokyo and which even "forgot" that due to climate change, Sapporo is no cooler alternative for staging the race-walking and marathon events anymore. One also has to raise some doubts about the anti-doping measures at these Games - not only due to the alarmingly small number of doping tests taken worldwide especially during the start of the pandemic, but also due to the laxness shown during the Games. A German camera team showed how, despite the rules, athletes could walk around the venue for many minutes after their events and although they had been selected for a doping test, were left unaccompanied by officials or were even able to ignore them. This should never happen at Olympic Games that were marked by a surprising number of world and Olympic records and after all the doping scandals we have already witnessed, this should not even happen at a smaller sports event. The sports Bearing this in mind, it's easy and hard at the same time to rejoice in the excellent athletic performances we could witness at these Games. I feel bad about a Russian team ranking 4th (as of now) in the medal table after the huge doping scandal and the government's unapologetic stance towards critical media and observers worldwide. I feel bad about athletes shattering world records hailing from a time decades ago when illegal medication was probably already fueling those records. And yet, I felt amazed yet again by stories of athletes overcoming heavy obstacles (let alone by the pandemic) and giving their best and maybe even winning a medal in Tokyo, especially in that weather and atmosphere. I'm happy about the host country's strong showing after all the troubles Japan went through in the lead-up to these Games. I'm also happy that these Games had the most medalling nations in Olympic history. I'm surprised (or should I, when I think about doping again?) that the US have such difficulties surpassing China in the medal table (if one uses the international method of counting the gold medals first), but that probably shows that even for former sports powerhouses, it has become a lot tougher to maintain their status and not fall victim to the increased international competition. I'm not so happy about my own country's showing in these Games, though. Team Germany has lost many of its former powerhouses: The rowing and canoeing produced surprisingly few medals and for the first time in 25 years, Germany hasn't won a single medal in any ball team sport. Yet again, Germany is having a discussion about how to fund and prepare our athletes adequately for such an important event. Adding to that, the German athletes were unlucky: Annika Schleu lost her very good chance for a gold medal in the modern pentathlon because her horse refused - and created a debate about animal protection and unlogical rules in sports. Jonathan Horne was deemed a strong contender in Karate and seriously injured his arm five seconds before the end of his second fight. Johannes Vetter, another gold contender in the men's javelin throw, could not deal with the unusually soft track at Olympic Stadium, stumbled and failed to deliver any good throw. On the other hand, Sarah Köhler and Florian Wellbrock were able to break the 13-year-old "no Olympic swimming medals for Germany" spell and sailing and wrestling produced surprisingly good results, compared to previous Games. In the end, Germany can call itself lucky if it remains one of the Top 10 sports nations in the long run - and has to seriously increase its efforts in the lead-up to the Paris 2024 Games. The overall impression So, this is clearly a mixed bag. These were definitely not the best Games ever - which is no surprise probably, regarding the unusual circumstances. They haven't been a disaster either. But, just like the Rio 2016 Games, I still feel as if these Games took place at the wrong location and the wrong time. Yes, it was great for the athletes that they still got their chance to compete and for me it was a welcome distraction from these dire times. Yes, Japan has showed once again that it is highly capable of staging the biggest sports events in the world. But Japan has had and will have to pay an enormous price for this luxury item called "Olympic Games". While these Games have brought a lot of distraction and even joy to me, they haven't distracted my thoughts about the Olympic Idea fighting for its survival. In times of over-commercialisation, greed, corruption and doping in sports, climate change and increasing opposition against the Olympic Games, one has to ask how long this can work. Six months from now, when Beijing welcomes the world for the Olympic Winter Games, this question will probably be even more prominent, because then we will have to add China's repressions and poor human rights record to that unappetizing mix. Under these circumstances, I can sadly only give Tokyo a "Well done" or 6 out of 10 points. Tokyo and Japan are not or only partially responsible for the problems the sports world and the entire humanity have to face right now, but it could also not give the world a light of hope. Tokyo brutally confronted us with everything that is wrong on our planet right now. I will always feel sorry for the Japanese people that they had to take that burden and could not show their full potential as hosts at these Games, due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The brilliant handover in Rio five years ago showed what could have been. Just like the already rather jagged opening ceremony showed: It wasn't meant to be. Here's hoping that Paris can be host under different circumstances in 2024. Otherwise, humanity and also the IOC will be seriously screwed. Nevertheless: Arigato, Tokyo - arigato, Nippon! 2 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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