We are going through the shortest Olympic cycle in history. There were longer ones due to the two so-called World Wars. And there was another one, very recent, that had an ambiguous effect. Tokyo 2020 took five years to arrive from Rio 2016. In addition, it shortened the period until Paris 2024 to three years. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it seems untrue to us that we are already a little more than half a year away from a new Olympic event.
A few days ago, the French organization announced the launch of a new tranche of ticket sales for the upcoming games. The tickets flew into the hands of the fans. Logical, because of what the games always generate. Logical because any excuse justifies a trip to the French capital. And it is logical for one detail that, not because we have naturalized it, we must minimize its dimension: the Parisians will be the first post-pandemic games, that is, those with the public’s unrestricted return to the stadiums.
Those of us who had the enormous privilege of being in Tokyo in 2021 attest to how hard it was to get used to seeing the vast majority of the best athletes on the planet compete in fabulous settings whose stands were barely attended by colleagues, coaches, managers, press people and a handful of volunteers. We got used to sharing the thrill of a gold medal with no other celebration than that of the champions and their almost always small environment.
However, that extravagance of having set up a colossal infrastructure that, in the end, had almost no tenants, ended up being a minuscule detail compared to the feat of having prevented the interruption of Olympic continuity in the midst of one of the greatest global traumas in memory of the last 100 years.
Seen in perspective, the mere realization of those games justifies the idea that there are things that can only be achieved based on what we can call “Olympic energy”.
By the way, some curiosities experienced in Japan that are hardly repeated. Above all, based on the logic of foreseeable health rigour.
Many people from many countries present in Tokyo had to carry out three PCR tests in the following days before the outbound flight. It had to be done in specially designated healthcare centers based on a tender required by the Japanese government itself.
After arriving in Japan, all foreigners, from the most modest chronicler to the most notable athlete, had to do saliva checks with a frequency of almost one checkup every other day.
Then, the quarantine at the destination. For the first three days, we were only able to leave our rooms fifteen minutes once a day. After that period, a specific fleet of taxis was allocated that could only interact with those arriving from abroad.
In addition, through two applications compatible with geolocation, it was verified that each of us was not going where we should not. For example, if you asked for a car to go from the hotel to the IBC, you couldn’t change course and go to the Olympic Stadium. Doing so could expose you to penalties, from warnings to the removal of your credential. The same process could happen if you deactivate your cell phone’s Bluetooth system, which prevented them from following your trail.
That way all the time. So with so many things. That’s how normal the games ended up being.
I mean. With all these peculiarities, more in line with a Class B science fiction film than with the games dreamed of by De Coubertin, we experienced truly extraordinary games in Tokyo.
Why this reminder?
Because so close to the start of a new Olympic year, let’s all be aware of what we’re about to celebrate.
And how close that celebration came to being cut short just three years ago.