The Olympic spirit shines through as Tokyo 2020 closes - GulfToday

The Olympic spirit shines through as Tokyo 2020 closes

Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics ended on Sunday underlining spirit of fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

It has been a tough Olympics to hold by any standards. Even as the Tokyo Olympics ended on Sunday in a ceremony marked by techno-fired glitziness of music, there was a note of solemnity as the Olympic torch lit at the opening of the games was extinguished. The Tokyo Olympics 2020, held in 2021, in the middle of a global pandemic will be remembered for the empty stands, the medical emergency in Tokyo as infection rates in the Japanese capital soared to four thousand a day, and the people were angry, the government was determined to see through the games, and the athletes living in a bubble did their best, breaking records and proving the Olympic ideal of friendship among nations and peoples.

For the athletes it is a lifetime experience and achievement and for millions of people around the globe it was a moment of national celebrations as their fellow-countryfolk from small countries like Jamaica to those from the traditional biggies like China, the United States, Japan, and Russia vied with each other for the medal tally. There were surprises as they were bound to be.

For example, in the 100 metres sprint, Elaine Thompson-Herah beat her compatriot Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce who was bidding for her third successive Olympic medal. And then in high jump event, Qatar’s Mutash Barzim shared the gold medal with Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, both of who are friends and rivals and who have been competing with each other in sporting events across the globe for years. There is then a spirit of camaraderie which marks sports, especially the Olympics, and it is this that is considered the spirit of Olympics.

At least for the fortnight of the Olympics, athletes of different nations, races, and creed compete with one another other but without the usual acrimony and bitterness of national rivalries. It is considered an honour to have participated in the Olympics and winning a medal is only a bonus. Of course, this is at the idealistic plane.

The ambition of every athlete is to win at the Olympics more than in any other sports event because there is a touch of immortality attached to the Olympic Games. Despite the many failings of the International Olympic Committee, the respective national Olympic committees, and the many controversies and scandals that erupt time and again, the ideal of the Olympic Games remains unsullied. It is for this reason that athletes from every country aspire to compete in the Olympics.

It would be naïve to ignore the economics and politics of the Olympic Games. The Tokyo Olympic Games are estimated to have cost US dollar 15 billion, and it is the bill that the city authorities which hosts the games are left with after the Games are over, the athletes have gone home, and the lights have gone out in the stadia. And many cities are known to have gone nearly bankrupt as did Montreal after the 1976 Olympics and Atlanta City after the 1996 Olympics. Hosting the games involves huge money but it also means big bucks for advertisers and companies, and even for city corporations. It is a mega event. But its glamour and prestige are derived from the stature of Olympics as a unique global sporting event.

There is also the fact that the athletes have not only to prepare hard to fulfil their Olympic dreams and goals, but the sports authorities of their countries spend money in preparing them with appropriate training facilities. In some of the countries, private corporations have stepped in as sponsors for the training of the athletes. Many may bemoan the fact that this is crass commercialization. But what remains after all this is the pure achievement of the athlete or the team based on skill and strength and the natural beauty of the human spirit.

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