After just over two weeks of competition among 11,500 athletes across 46 disciplines in 43 venues, the 124th Olympics came to an end on 8th August 2021. The competition was rescheduled for the first time in its modern history in 2020 due to COVID-19. The Olympics this August hosted a total of 339 medal events and included a Refugee Olympic Team composed of 29 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders from 11 countries.

Amid the televised pomp and the indisputable athletic display, it was notably without spectators, as the spectre of COVID-19 still loomed. Notwithstanding, it left us with many lessons to draw from as we continue to build resilience in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Team USA dominated the Tokyo Olympics, finishing the Games with 113 overall medals to China’s 88, including 39 golds, whilst Team Great Britain matched their overall haul of London 2012. The host country Japan’s medal count of 58 was also a new record. Then, there was the emergence of surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing as popular, and viable Olympic sports.

Allyson Felix took a U.S. record 11th medal in track, there was also American quintuple gold medalist Caeleb Dressel’s astounding performance in the pool. Eliud Kipchoge became only the third man to ever retain his Olympic marathon title. Notably, Momiji Nishiya 13, Rayssa Leal 13, and Funa Nakayama 16, won gold, silver, and bronze, respectively, for dominating the skateboarding women’s street event. 

Another noteworthy takeaway was that the International Olympic Committee slightly relaxed its Rule 50, which originally prohibited “political, religious or racial propaganda.” The new guidance issued allowed athletes more freedom to express their views on the field of play before competition as long as they are not disruptive or potentially hostile. 

Thus, this year’s competition gave room for inclusiveness and saw a German athlete wear a rainbow armband during a hockey match, showing solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Then, Costa Rican gymnast Luciana Alvarado incorporated a Black Lives Matter tribute into her routine. Furthermore, Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the team gymnastics finals and women’s all-around event to focus on her mental health, also sparked conversations about mental health awareness. All of which added greater depth and broader public interest to the sports festival. 

Some of the other key takeaways include the fact that the entire Tokyo 2020 was powered by renewable energy. In addition, the medals were products of recycled smartphones, laptops and other old electronic gadgets donated by the public. The games will forever be remembered as the empty Olympics that took place in spite of the pandemic.

By Aguamah Nanas

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