After its postponement, the 2020 Olympics took place from July 23 to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. The Olympics, a series of international sports competitions that occur once every four years, have always served as a platform for bringing people from all parts of the globe together. This year, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on individuals all over the world, that solidarity and unity is felt even more strongly. It has been believed that it is the global community’s collective goal to achieve progress and overcome gaps through the Olympic Games, setting the way for global recovery in the aftermath of a pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) updated its “Faster, Higher, Stronger” tagline to include the term “Together,” stressing the importance of cooperation and unity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympics emphasized the spirit of cooperation and the general theme of perseverance in the face of adversity. Athletes and non-athletes alike can empathize with the sentiments of isolation felt during the pandemic, when a moment of silence was held throughout the event to honor those who lost their lives as a result of COVID-19. The ceremony also featured the display of some athletes practicing alone by isolating themselves, being joined together later by other athletes at distances, feeling connected, despite the physical separation. Highlighting the sense of unity and togetherness, Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, stated, “Today is a moment of hope… It is very different from what all of us had imagined. But let us cherish this moment. Finally, we are all here together.”
The unity, as well as sportsmanship, between athletes participating in the 2020 Olympics continued throughout the entire competition. In fact, on August 1, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi were leading the men’s high jump after both clearing 2.37m on their first attempt. Both of them, however, failed to clear the Olympic record height of 2.39m on all three attempts. When both athletes finished at 2.37m, Barshim requested the referee if they could have two golds, as the athletes showed their willingness to share the gold medal, instead of another attempt to determine a single winner. Referring to this act, Tamberi stated, “We just understood each other. We became friends. We want to win. We want to beat each other. But still we know how hard it is to do this sport.” Following this act of sportsmanship and unity, as well as the solidification of a friendship, Barshim and Tamberi celebrated both of their successes happily.
A strong sense of sportsmanship and unity also exists among young athletes during the 2020 Olympics. The women’s park skateboarding event was initiated at the Tokyo Olympics, and after a wonderful moment of sportsmanship among the young contestants, spectators have had a growing admiration for the sport. After being chaired by a number of competitors, 15-year-old Misugo Okamoto went all out in her last run and fell with only five seconds remaining. Having seen this, Poppy Olsen of Australia and Bryce Wettstein of the United States went over to pick up Okamoto. Doing such a thing made Olsen and Wettstein miss out on the podium, however, the ‘wholesome’ skateboarding Olympics moment has enthralled fans. Witnessing this beautiful scene, a Channel 7 commentator stated, “This is what skateboarding is all about.” Fans all over the world applauded the young athletes’ outstanding display of sportsmanship. They also praised the inclusion of the event in the Olympics, predicting that skateboarding will continue to spread around the world.
The 2020 Olympics, following a year of pandemic isolation and COVID-19, demonstrate solidarity and unity among different athletes and people around the world. The Olympics display a sense of togetherness and connectedness since its start in the opening ceremony. The generosity and sportsmanship across different sports activities did not only exist among grown-up athletes, but also existed among young athletes who participated in this year’s Olympics, as well as among both genders of male and female. Therefore, the Olympics 2020 paves the way for a smoother recovery from the impact of COVID-19, encouraging cohesion and cooperation not only between a diversity of individuals, but also nations.
Feature Image: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko