Commentary: Olympic competition lives on despite challenges

(Xinhua) 09:30, August 09, 2021

The Olympic flame is seen at the Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Ming)

TOKYO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Two weeks ago, uncertainty was the main feeling heading to the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

The same issues that caused the delay of the Games by a year still existed.

In the build-up to the opening ceremony, many athletes were denied entry to the Games due to failed COVID-19 tests, and the athletes who made the trip to Japan were faced with the crushing reality of empty stadia and strict quarantine controls.

The fear of the virus caused even some athletes to drop out.

However, despite the difficulties that have made this Olympics so unique, sport has shone through.

As with every Olympic Games, the achievements and stories of the athletes involved have inspired so many.

From soon-to-be iconic feats of Caeleb Dressel and Emma McKeon in the pool, winning five and four golds each, to South Korea's An San's three golds on the archery range.

Quan Hongchan of China competes during the women's 10m platform final at Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Xu Chang)

These Games have also seen the emergence of teenage stars. In diving, 14-year-old Quan Hongchan turning in a perfect score to secure gold for China, while in skateboarding, young Sky Brown at just 13 earned a bronze.

Tokyo has also seen the arrival of exciting new sports. Brown's skateboarding has been joined by surfing, 3x3 basketball and climbing, new exhilarating sports that will inspire even more people to find their niche.

Although these new sports have made waves, the old favorites are still not to be missed.

The blue riband 100 meter final was one for the ages.

Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy celebrates after winning the men's 4x100m relay final at Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 6, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Yibo)

The unfancied Italian Lamont Marcell Jacobs shocked the world to steam home in 9.80 seconds. Winning gold and setting a new European record, Jacobs only started sprinting full-time three years ago after switching from long jump.

Other underdog wins also made headlines. China's long-held dominance in table tennis was finally broken, albeit in just one event. The Japanese duo of Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani became the first athletes not of Chinese nationality to win gold since 2008.

Like China in ping pong, Kenya's dominance in steeplechase running has long been accepted as fact. However, Kenyan dominance too stopped. Morocco's Soufiane El Bakkali became the non-Kenyan man since Los Angeles 1984 to win gold in the event.

With spells of dominance broken in so many sports, it's little surprise that Tokyo's medals table is as close as it has ever been.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach waves the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Ming)

The nip and tuck at the top of the table between the United States, China and Japan has meant that no nation has been able to pull away from the rest as usual. Further down the table, Great Britain, the Russian Olympic Committee and Australia have also been fighting for fourth place.

While a few fans have witnessed the Games in person, the tight nature of competition has meant that these Games have been some of the most engrossing and engaging in recent history.

Even though this may have been a Games like no other, it is clear that the Olympics remains the pinnacle of sport.

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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