Pandemic games filled with surprises so far
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
When Tokyo got the rights to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2020 for the second time in 2013, it was the beginning of an era where the games would be hosted frequently in Asia. I was very excited for them and wanted to go to the city to cheer on Team Canada as well as Team Japan getting gold medals. In the eight years preparing for the games, the country was recovering from the earthquake and tsunami that happened a decade ago and was going through revolutionary changes in a number of ways.
When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, the country was determined to still host the games but had to delay them from 2020 to 2021 because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. All the while the host city had to go through another state of emergency for the fourth time. Most events had no audiences—and this includes family and friends of the athletes participating in the games. (Maybe I can go to Paris again for the Summer Olympic Games in 2024).
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games began on July 23 with an opening ceremony that I thought was going to be exciting but ended up being kind of boring—though the ceremony was artistically beautiful.
After legendary Japanese singer Misia sang Japan’s national anthem, basketball player Miranda Ayim and rugby player Nathan Hirayama carried the Canadian flag in the Parade of Nations. Emperor Naruhito declared the games officially started, and tennis player Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic Cauldron.
Despite there being a surge of cases in the host city, the number of cases related to the games were low and a few athletes got the virus but it is unknown how they contracted it. The Australian Athletics Olympic Team almost got the virus from an American athlete but tested negative the second time shortly after. There were high expectations for some athletes, and it led to a few surprises and upsets including tennis player Novak Djokovic trying to get a gold medal on his journey of getting the golden grand slam. Also notable was Osaka being beaten by Markéta Vondroušová where she would end up being in the semi-finals of womens tennis, and gymnast Simone Biles withdrawing from the artistic gymnastics womens all-around to take care of her mental health.
History was also made at the games where the Philippines, Tunisia, and Bermuda got their first gold medals ever in any games in Taekwondo, swimming, and triathlon respectively. Japan is doing very well right now with the host country having 25 medals including being tied with China of having the most gold medals mainly from Judo at the time I am writing this. They also swept skateboarding which is new in the game; Japan earned a gold medal for 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya in women’s skateboarding. In the case of Canada, we are currently in 14th place with 14 total medals. Gold medals have gone to swimmer Maggie MacNeil in the women’s 100m butterfly, Maude Charron in women’s weightlifting, and the country’s first medals in Judo with bronze medals for Jessica Klimkait and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard. The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are going to make more history in week two with athletics events where sprinter Andre de Grasse could become the fastest man running.