Photo: The Tokyo Olympics 2020
COVID-19 and The Tokyo Olympics
In March of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached and attacked America. Schools, jobs, and events shut down to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, plunging our world into an unfamiliar and frightening two years. Between efforts to social distance, quarantine, and mass-produce the vaccine, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, among other worldwide events, were postponed.
Finally, in the summer of 2021, after a long journey to restore health and order to our daily lives, the event was able to take place, albeit under special circumstances. Tokyo took on the great challenge of creating an environment that was safe and hospitable for all the athletes participating and staying in the Olympic Village.
Part of their efforts included no audiences, meaning only coaches, staff, and other athletes were allowed to watch the opening ceremonies and games this year. In addition, everyone had regular COVID-19 testing and most were encouraged to arrive vaccinated, among just the U.S.A team 83% of players had both doses. Athletes were required to be masked at all times and rather than cheer or yell for teammates they were instructed to only clap.
Although it many were worried about the effectiveness of the safety protocols at what was widely considered a superspreader event, major complications were avoided and athletes and fans got to finally enjoy the 2020 Olympics. Here are some of the greatest highlights to remember and celebrate from a year that is impossible to forget!
Super Star Athletes of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Every athlete has earned their spot at the Tokyo Olympics but a handful of them made history and achieved well-deserved time in the spotlight.
This year all credit goes to Simone Biles who represented the heart of the United States, proving with her withdrawal from the games that sometimes mental health is more important than physical. The strength it took for her to recognize the need to take a step back and heal her mind, was appreciated and applauded by her friends, teammates, and other athletes as well.
She stayed supporting her teammates which led to Sunisa Lee winning the all-around Olympic champion despite her injuries and difficult year. The first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics, she extended the USA 17 year winning streak in gymnastics, solidifying her legacy with one of the most difficult uneven bars routines ever seen.
Caleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky swept the rest of the swimming teams this year as well, with the former athlete winning 5 gold medals and setting two new world records. Ledecky’s astonishing efforts had her creating an Olympic medal collection of 10 and winning the first women’s 1500m freestyle.
Around the World Records At the 2020 Olympics
Records were set around the world as well, with Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya proving to be the only man to run a marathon in under two hours. And despite the unfortunate circumstances that forbade Sha’Carri Richardson from competing, Track and Field was an event to watch! Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson Herah finished the 100-meter sprint in 10.61 seconds, breaking the 33-year old Olympic record and becoming the fastest woman alive. Joshua Cheptegei set records for track and field as well, winning the 5000m race as his first Olympic title.
On July 26th, skateboarding met its match with Japan’s Momiji Nishiya becoming the youngest gold medal winner at the age of 13. Luka Doncic of Serbia represented his country beautifully as well, taking Slovenia farther than it ever had before in the Olympic Basketball games. Despite his loss against Australia, he is leaving the Olympics with his name on several all-time statistics lists, alongside his NBA co-star Kevin Durant who was named the Basketball MVP for the performance that led the USA to gold.
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History Being Made At the Olympics
With records being set and athletes claiming their legacies, it was inevitable that history would be made. The USA girl’s volleyball team won gold for the first time under the leadership of coach Karch Kiraly. India also had their most decorated Olympic season with one gold, two silver, and four bronze medals. Neeraj Chopra brought home the gold for men’s javelin throw, becoming India’s superstar.
History was made with representation and diversity as well, with Laurel Hubbard competing as the first transgender athlete ever in the Olympics. She competed in weightlifting and while much controversy surrounded the decision, the Olympic committee stood firm in their decision to be more inclusive.
Perhaps even more controversial was the shared victory between Italy and Qatar during the high jump event. Although some criticized the decision, others were ecstatic over the sportsmanship and inclusivity that made history. After Qatar’s Mutaz-Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi tied, rather than have a jump-off until someone fell short, the two agreed to share the gold medal.
Strange but Successful Olympics Come to an End
Although the circumstances of this year’s Olympics were strange and unexpected, Japan was happy to have hosted and avoided major controversy and trouble with the pandemic still brewing. Health concerns remained high, but hosts, staff, and athletes all contributed to keeping the Olympic Village healthy and functioning, a level of cooperation and preparation that had not been seen before.
Now, all attention lies on the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing, and fans and athletes are hoping that COVID-19 will not remain a central issue and everyone can enjoy the events without the extra worry and protocols.
As far as the medal race, the United States claimed the first spot with 39 gold medals, 41 silver, and 33 bronze. China was second with 38 gold, 32 silver, and 18 bronze. Japan rounded off the top three with 27 gold medals, 14 silver, and 17 bronze.
Caleb Dressel was the athlete with the highest number of gold medals, taking the first place spot with 5 gold. Australia’s Emma McKeon followed with 4 gold medals and then her fellow teammate Kaylee McKeown with 3. All three were swimmers but in fourth place, South Korea’s archer, An San, had three gold medals and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah had three gold for her sprinting.
What were your favorite parts of the Tokyo Olympics? Were you happy with the way they unfolded? Despite the challenges and doubts, the world was able to come together and through perseverance and steady cooperation create remarkable performances that will forever remain a part of the COVID-19 Olympics legacy.
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Mireille Karadanaian is an entertainment journalist, whose passion for reviewing upcoming TV shows and movies has existed since a young age. She writes reviews and feature entertainment stories for The Hollywood Insider’s inclusive and authentic platform, contributing to the important stories being told in media today. Mireille loves discussing the impact today’s media is making on younger generations who emulate what they see on screen and the Internet, a double-edged sword. Her stories often include the importance of creating content that inspires inclusion, positivity, and productive messages to all audiences and generations. Mireille’s love of covering TV shows, movies, and exciting questions that are being asked in the media world is seen in her writing and her ability to not just report facts but also tell a story.