A worldwide pandemic. Forest fires. Earthquakes. Oil fields on fire. Tsunamis. While we have been combating COVID-19, natural and manmade disasters have not ceased their assault on this already beleaguered world.
God knows we can use something positive right now. Anything!
In the history of the Olympic Games, the Tokyo Olympics may very well be the most unpopular among the local population and the one which faced the highest degree of uncertainty. Unpopular this opinion could be, but the Olympics is exactly what the world needs, and we’re grateful that we are getting to enjoy it right now.
Because the Olympics is a supreme example of how life can be “normal” and enjoyed again.
It is a brilliant reminder that despite the incessant battering we have received – and are receiving – from COVID-19, the human race can find ways to live and thrive.
The Summer Olympics is perhaps the only global sporting event that brings countries great and small together to this degree. Developing countries stand side by side with world leaders, ready to show what they’ve got. Athletes make and break records, giving their countrymen something to rejoice about. Even without on-site spectators, the Games are monitored by billions of people – probably even more so now with the state of technology.
A Summer Olympics that has faced countless barriers and was pushed back a year, if successful, has intangible yet massive effects on the world. Even as the Games go on, it is already proving to be a morale booster. Ask the people of the Philippines, who won its first gold medal after almost 100 years of effort, and Bermuda, who also won its first gold medal and is now the smallest country to achieve this. One only has to take a look at social media to see the joy the Olympics is bringing to these countries.
It is worth noting, though, that the Tokyo Olympics has not garnered support locally. Tokyo has been placed under a state of emergency (again), due to COVID-19, with the situation lasting throughout the Olympics. The citizens feel that the government’s resources should be 100 percent on the home front and not distracted by the world’s biggest sporting event. A majority of the Japanese people – a whopping 83 percent! – believe that the Olympics should not have pushed through.
Polls show a stark decrease in the ratings of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet, reaching a record low at 34 percent. According to polls and surveys, critics cite a sluggish response to COVID, especially highlighting the rollout of vaccines. It is only fair to recognize that, while the vaccination efforts were slow to start, the government has stepped up to the occasion. Especially nearing the commencement of the Olympics.
Japan now leads the rate of vaccination and recently surpassed South Korea for the first time. The COVID mortality rate has dropped by 5 percent despite the ongoing Games (as opposed to what was expected by some).
A lukewarm welcome to the Olympics is understandable to a certain degree, but from an objective point of view, it seems to us that the host is doing a stellar job. It has not been without bumps. Some athletes have had to drop out because of COVID. The Delta variant is posing a new danger.
It is no mean feat for the Japanese to have reached this far. In the best of circumstances, holding the Olympics is not a walk in the park. For the Japanese government to have pulled this off is something its citizens could be more appreciative of. It is one of those times when it would be good to examine undue criticism and give credit where credit is due. The rest of the world is feeling a boost, and we have the Japanese to thank for that in part.
With the Tokyo Olympics well underway, we do see a glimpse of what could be again. Catastrophes like COVID may hit us. Aftershocks like variants – Delta and whatnot – may come. Yet the human spirit is indefatigable. We can and will rise. The Olympics is an undeniable symbol of what we can achieve if we work together despite our differences. If you think about it, that is exactly what the Olympic spirit is about, isn’t it?