It’s no secret that today’s world is brimming with competition. We compete in our job market, in our universities, in our governments, and on countless daytime television shows (thanks, ABC). For just a few weeks every couple of years, though, we relish in the unparalleled, vibrant spirit of competition as the Olympic torch is lit in some special corner of the globe.
This summer, however, the tradition will look different. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are currently postponed until the summer of 2021, according to the International Olympic Committee. This decision marks the first postponement in the rich history of the tradition, thereby ushering the global institution into a place of uncharted territory.
This news is clearly most devastating to the athletes and their families who have sacrificed inconceivable amounts of time and resources into developing their careers. Like most side effects of the outbreak, it’s just simply and profoundly sad. It remains uncertain whether athletes currently in their prime will be performing at the same level one year from now, leading to a whole host of inquiries about qualifying and eligibility. The United States’ men’s soccer team will not change its age cutoff date (therefore sending older players to the Games in the event that the team earns a spot in the competition), while their women’s gymnastics program will allow for athletes who previously did not meet the minimum age requirement to qualify, according to Team USA.
The decision is also hard for sports enthusiasts and diehard Olympic devotees to swallow. Once I see the Trials pop up as I click through the channels on television, I become the biggest sports fanatic and the biggest sucker for those wonderfully cinematic P&G commercials. It’s hard not to fall in love with the stories of these athletes as we watch segment after segment detailing their laborious journeys, learn the intricacies of their victory dances, and commit to memory countless fun facts about their upbringings or hometowns. By the end of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, I had practically mastered the art of identifying snowboarding tricks on the halfpipe and established the goal of one day becoming a professional snowboarder. (In case you’re wondering, I’m still working on that one.)
For those of us Olympic spectators, this postponement could very well be a diamond in the rough. We now have a whole extra year to learn the names and quirks of our favorite contenders, watch front-runners evolve, and actually memorize the rules of water polo. We now have an opportunity to support our team before they head to the world stage, before they dive headfirst into the buzz of the Games. Team USA is running weekly “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday” installments on their webpage that will continue to grow the Olympic spirit throughout the year-long delay, highlighting standout athletes and information about the host city to help you become the most knowledgeable Olympic insider.
As we look ahead to the celebration of the Games in 2021, let’s get excited about competition. In a definitive ranking of summer Olympic events, which one deserves the top spot on the podium?
Perhaps you’re a gymnastics fanatic who adores artistry, or maybe you live for the elegance and sophistication of equestrian. Let us know what you think by voting up or down for the following events!