Get ready, there’s not long now

Organisers have already banned overseas spectators and have for now set a cap on domestic viewers...
Photo: ODT files
The Olympic Games have always been a bit weird.

Did you know that horse long jump was once an Olympic event? Or live pigeon shooting? Solo synchronised swimming?

The Olympics have been used a political tool (see Berlin 1936 ... and nearly every other Olympiad), cancelled because of war, boycotted by multiple nations, and the centre of appalling bloodshed.

They have been awash with cheats, chumps and doping scandals since the beginning of the modern era.

They make very little sense for sports such as golf and football, which have well-established and, bluntly, much superior elite events of their own.

They are the definition of economic insanity.

And, in Tokyo 2020 — held in the year 2021, naturally — we could be set for the weirdest Games yet.

The Tokyo Olympics take place in the shadow of the global pandemic, and every little thing about the event will be coloured by Covid-19.

Stringent rules around athlete movement and interaction are straightforward enough. Then there is the complete absence of spectators, which will make it all feel very strange.

But they’re still great, aren’t they?

The Olympics can, and should, be fun.

It’s about watching a sport you know nothing about but find yourself embracing thanks to the drama that unfolds.

It’s about admiring some of the world’s elite athletes as they perform with grace and power and speed.

It’s about Kiwi pride, and watching our team of a record 211 athletes — from the youngest, Dunedin swim sensation Erika Fairweather (17), to the oldest, show jumper Bruce Goodin (51) — compete, and win, on the world stage.

The Otago Daily Times will tomorrow start its countdown to Tokyo.

Over the following nine days, we will get an insight into what makes Fairweather tick, look at the other athletes from the South chasing gold, highlight the leading New Zealand medal hopes, remind readers of the new sports that have been admitted, and get the latest news out of Tokyo.

Before the opening ceremony late on July 23, we will provide you with a handy guide to the New Zealanders in action.

hayden.meikle@odt.co.nz

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