I stayed up ‘til 1am last night watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony in Tokyo. I don’t think I’ve paid much attention to any Olympics in ages – it’s probably just Sydney and Athens that I actually followed, because those are the ones that happened when I was just the right age (primary school) to care. (Don’t @ me with “what about the Winter Olympics” – Australians don’t care about those, because we suck at them 😉) After that I was busy with VCE and uni, and you know… having more interesting things to watch in my free time. 🤭

This year though, maybe it’s the reality of being stuck in lockdown, but keeping the Olympics coverage on in the background feels more appealing than in previous years (…although the Channel 7 ad breaks are doing their best to change my mind). At least the medal tally is something to follow avidly that isn’t as stressful as daily case numbers and Covid-19 exposure sites.

I do sympathise with those Japanese people who, struggling with their own Covid crisis, feel like the Olympics is an unnecessary and expensive risk. Honestly I’m not convinced, myself, that it should have gone ahead. I also have mixed feelings on the Olympics in general, from the pro-establishment faux apoliticism of the IOC, to the tension described so well by Akiko Hashimoto (as quoted in this article(external link)):

The Olympic Games are burdened with this inherent paradox of universal humanism and chauvinistic nationalism.

The chauvinistic nationalism absolutely turns me off, of course. When the American athletes came in during the Opening Ceremony chanting, “U! S! A! U! S! A!” I definitely had that feeling like… yikes 😬 But most Australian sports fans are just as rabid, really, so I shouldn’t cast stones. At any rate, I preferred the attitude of the Portuguese team, whose flagbearers came in kind of dancing and swinging around their flag! It seemed more fun anyway…

As far as the rest of the Opening Ceremony went – the dance routines and light displays were pretty, the acting-out of all the sports logographs was pretty funny, and I really liked that Naomi Osaka turned out to be that final torch bearer who lit the Olympic cauldron. After all that crap the French Open organisers put her through, it felt like a nice counterbalance.

It’s also nice to see some footage of Japan generally – the scenery and picturesque sights that appeal to tourists, that kind of thing. It’s a country that Viv and I have wanted to visit for a while, and while Covid means that won’t be happening in the near future, the Olympics coverage so far has made us even surer that we do eventually want it to happen. Enticing people to come visit (and spend their tourist dollars) is exactly why countries bid for Olympics hosting rights, right? 😛

At any rate, here’s hoping for a good, entertaining Games, and one that goes off without any serious hitches, Covid-related or otherwise. The Olympics are far from perfect as an institution, but they still might be exactly the distraction we were needing.