‘Faster, higher, stronger’ - the time-worn motto of Olympics has an addition from Tokyo - together. And it’s a no-brainer as to why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved in to add that expression at the last minute.
No Summer Olympics has ever polarised the public opinion as this one due to the obvious risk of the Games turning out to be a super spreader of the Covid-19 virus by the time it ends, but the sombre opening ceremony without fans at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium once again highlighted the triumph of the human spirit which the ‘greatest show on the earth’ showcases. Name another sporting event where a superpower like the US or China is accorded the same welcome like a South Sudan or Kosovo?
A ticking time bomb? A result of greed on part of the IOC? How come the trolling was hardly as vocal when the Euro 2020 was being held across 11 countries in Europe - with most matches open to fans? A bit of number-crunching tells you that the England-Italy final alone at the Wembley Stadium had 60,000 fans - with almost another 100,000 throwing caution to the winds outside the stadium.
We will be living in denial to say that the Olympics offers no health hazard, but then the stakeholders of the Games have apparently left no stones unturned to make it as safe as possible - by making it a closed doors affair, double vaccination of athletes, technical officials, volunteers and the media corps.
Now, this may not be a guarantee to a ‘risk-free’ Games, but the head honcho of World Health Organisation (WHO) himself says that the success of the Games would depend on identifying the cases, isolating and treating him - as it would be possible to have a zero case Games.
The difference between Olympics vis-a-vis any other sporting event lies in the volume of athletes - with nearly 11,000 athletes from an unprecedented number of 206 countries joining the spectacle. In a significant gesture, most countries were represented by male and female flagbearers in an Olympic first at the opening ceremony and the oath for the first time highlighted inclusion, non-discrimination and equality.
Well, this is what Olympics brings to the table. There have been times when the expanse of the event had been questioned and there were muted talks if the number of events can be shed to make it a more streamlined movement.
Let’s keep that discussion for another day. For now, a world in micro-cosm has braved the dangers to converge in Tokyo - and we should just give them a big hand!