All around the world from a very young age elite athletes choose to sacrifice having a “normal” childhood and adolescent life, in hopes of achieving glory and success. Training their whole lives to perfect their respective sport, and then if they’re lucky enough, they are offered the opportunity to compete on a world stage for a chance to chase their dreams of a gold medal.
Then all of a sudden, the world turns upside down, and their dreams are taken from them. The only shred of consolation being this is a temporary situation, and they must wait it out “until further notice.”
Any dedicated athlete understands the time and energy that goes into training for a sport or event, and athletes competing at the Olympic level take this dedication to the extreme. Blood, sweat, tears and hours upon hours of training occupy the lives of these Olympic athletes.
The Olympics is one of thousands of events that were cancelled or postponed this year due to COVID-19, and Olympic athletes all around the world were forced to shoulder this crushing blow that they would not be able to “go for the gold” this year as they had dreamt of.
Now, with just over 300 days until the newly postponed Opening Ceremonies, the International Olympic Committee Vice President, John Coates, declared that the 2021 Olympics will happen “with or without COVID.”
Although it is controversial, this decision to go forth with the 2021 Olympics gives the athletes a more concrete foundation upon which to plan their futures round. A luxury that has been so rare this past year. By making this promise to these athletes and to the world, we are given a sense of certainty about our world.
The extensive training that these athletes endure is challenging to say the least. But the motivation to train is truly only present if you know what you are working towards and you can see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
The decision to host the Tokyo 2021 Olympics no matter what the state of the pandemic is it also gives the athletes the ability to choose for themselves if they wish to potentially risk their long-term health and compete.
Many people disagree with the decision to host the 2021 Olympics if we do not yet have a vaccine or some sort of treatment for COVID-19. Coates’ statement left some people with a sour taste in their mouth, perceiving this decision as risking too much for too many people.
The Olympics is an event that brings athletes and spectators from all around the world together in one place, often under one roof, unfortunately making it probable that should we not yet have a COVID-19 cure, it could be a “super spreader” event.
This decision calls into question not only the safety of competing athletes, but the safety of all their respective countries to which they will flood back to after the games have ended.
However, now that the decision has been made with certainty to host the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the International Olympic Committee can focus their attention on making it as safe as possible for everyone involved.
The 2021 Olympics will unlikely resemble any Olympics we have seen thus far, but the determination to make it happen reflects the importance of the Olympics as more than merely a stage for athleticism. By hosting such an event in such uncertain times, it will demonstrate how we can all come together even in a time of such uncertainty.
Already the Tokyo 2021 Olympics have been described as being “the light at the end of the tunnel,” and have been promised by Coates and the rest of the Olympic International Committee in their latest address, to be the “Games that will conquer COVID-19.”