Jul 24
opinion challenge: Olympics

The 32 Olympic Games Begin

The Olympics come around every four years to remind us of things like patriotism and the perseverance of the human spirit. But in the time of Covid, do sports still have uniting power they once held? As athletes play to empty stadiums and quarantine in the Olympic village, I wonder...

I gather around the TV with my family and watch the opening ceremonies. Dancers, all dressed in white, interweave themselves with red threads. 
A narrator reminds a bored American audience that this thread represents the circulatory system. Drums pound and acrobats weave and flip and bounce. At the top of an abstract model of Mt. Fuji,  a cauldron waits to be filled with flame. 

The branding for the Tokyo Olympics is quite irregular. Some of the advertisements say "2020 Olympics" and some say 2021. I think the idea of keeping that reminder of the past year and a half at the forefront of the games is important and historically interesting. But as the camera zooms out on a Tokyo who has just gone into lockdown for the fourth time, I wonder... 

I will admit, I went to bed before the cauldron was lit. But still, I can imagine it. To the sound of great pounding music and much fanfare, Naomi Osaka climbed to the steps of the facsimile of Mt Fuji. She dunks the torch. The flame is lit, the sound of cheering is played into an empty stadium that could've held tens of thousands, the world inhales, and the games begin.