Duffers Diaries: It’s time for the Olympic Games, but not as we know them

This week we can finally welcome the Olympic Games back onto our television screens as they get under way in Tokyo on Friday.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 3:59 pm
It will be as much about masks as medals at the Olympic Games this year.

If it’s been a long wait for those of us who enjoy watching them, the five-year gap between Games must have felt like an eternity for those who train so hard to take part in them, whether they’re seasoned competitors or going to the Olympics for the first time.

For some, the year-long delay will have put paid to any hopes they had of competing in Tokyo at all for one reason or another, while for others 2020 may have been a year too soon for them and instead they’re benefiting from the extra time which has enabled them to go to Tokyo rather than having to wait until Paris in 2024.

However, for the Games to happen at all this year, a good few things are of course going to be very different.

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There won’t be spectators at any events, for starters, with even the Japanese public now unable to attend due to spikes in the number of COVID cases across the country. That will deprive competitors of the thrill of reaching what for many is the pinnacle of their careers in front of thousands of people, or at least ones not watching on an electronic device.

It may have become a familiar feeling in the last year but I just wonder what edge it might take off a few performances. I gather sounds will be piped into stadiums and, like we’ve seen with other sports in the last year, added to the broadcasts, but that can’t be the same.

One of the other major concerns is just who will be allowed to compete. As I write, there are reports of positive COVID tests coming out of the Olympic Village and one can only fear that more will follow and with it the forced withdrawals of athletes or, in a worst case scenario, the complete cancellation of some events. Some competitors have already been forced out of action.

Safety is paramount for athletes and the public of course as we keep trying to reduce the impact of this darned virus, and even an Olympics such as this has to be better than no Olympics at all.

I just hope that when all is said, done and won, the event isn’t remembered for what doesn’t happen and who doesn’t compete rather than what, and who, does.

Twitter: @DuffersSport