Yup. You read that correctly.
Writing that headline was a weird experience for me because it seems as though we are living in the past as our present tries to play catch up to the world’s foremost sports competition. The Tokyo Olympics was postponed last year due to COVID-19 and the global pandemic – a pandemic that refuses to subside with the rising Delta variant.
Despite our global health crisis, the Tokyo Olympics finally kicked off with their opening ceremony last Friday, and it was noticeably different from past ceremonies. Athletes were masked up and walked out to meet an empty stadium. Some teams chose to socially distance themselves from their own teammates while others were clustered together. A moment of silence took place for those who lost their lives due to the pandemic. As a viewer, you could just feel how the past year permeated throughout the opening ceremony. And you could hear it outside the ceremony, too.
During quieter moments of the ceremony, the cries of protestors could be heard as they denounced the Olympics outside the venue. For months, Japanese citizens have expressed their objection against the Olympics as their country was placed under a state of emergency due to the combination of rising coronavirus cases and the Japanese population’s low vaccination rate (a little over 20%). There have already been positive coronavirus reports within the Olympic bubble. What does this mean for Japan and the safety of its citizens?
I’m sure many people (coaches, athletes, spectators, etc.) have been looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics not only as a major event to showcase the elites of the sports world but as a way for countries to come together during these difficult times. But is it worth it for us to express this global unity or is it reckless? While we may need something extravagant to take our minds off of our grim reality, it does not serve our best interests because it will not help minimize the severity of this pandemic.
It’s been over a year now, and it seems like we need to revert back to older CDC guidelines and continue wearing masks indoors, even if vaccinated. It is necessary to keep ourselves safe and help return the world to what we once knew it to be.