It happened officially on March 24. It was an announcement many were anticipating. Some nations had already declared their position--including Canada--yet for me, a huge fan, it still came as a disappointment. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were suspended.
They were supposed to start July 24, followed by the Paralympics on August 25. The announcement had to come, of course, but it was hard to hear. Remember back in March thinking that July was a long ways away? Things could change by summer, right? Maybe that was just me.
In the last couple of weeks I have been trying to focus on all the negative things about the Olympics in an effort to convince myself I wouldn’t miss them. Corruption. Scandal. Excess. Waste. Hypocrisy. Doping. Cheating. None of that can be denied--or defended. But for all of that, as soon as one Olympiad comes to a close I start the countdown clock to the next. That countdown has now been extended by 12 months. At least that’s the plan as it stands now.
The deferral means the event will look different. The Olympic rings will still fly proudly, medals will be awarded, and anthems will be played but potentially much could be different. Spectators? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly fewer than planned. Will there be a huge show for the opening ceremony? The parade of nations? We’ll have to see. All we know at this point is that athletes will be there.
Those planning to compete next year will be one year older than they would have been at these Olympics. For some, that is a year longer than they had planned to compete. For others it means another year of development, making them more of a threat twelve months from now. As a result, the medals will likely be going to some different athletes next summer than if they were being awarded in the next two weeks.
Because yes, a lot will change over this next year. It’s always changing, to be sure. That’s how life is. But maybe we are attuned to it at some points more than others--particularly when the circumstances are so huge, yet the consequences so personal. Just like how it feels now.
It is discouraging, even unnerving, to be waiting for global factors to abate in order to make long range plans or wonder when we can revisit all that has been set aside. Some things might be reclaimed. Others will be gone. But perhaps, just perhaps, it will open up something unexpected--something we haven’t even considered yet. Unforeseen opportunities. Unanticipated medal possibilities.
So as I snack on onion rings while I wear the Olympic merchandise on Friday, (it’s been sitting in my closet since Christmas Day so seriously, how long can I be expected to wait?) I will be resetting the countdown clock. Not for the new opening ceremony date, but far more importantly, as a benchmark for what comes next. Our lives will be different a year from now. Our relationships, health, finances, friendships and social interactions will be affected--for better or worse. It won’t be the same. It never is.
So now we can either sit back and wait for others to tell us when we can start planning again, or we can decide to put our own imprint on the next 12 months in ways we hadn’t previously considered. Perhaps our gold, silver and bronze can be reflected in a dream, a goal, and the work it’s going to take to get there. Just imagine what our lives could look like by the time the next Olympics roll around. That’s my outlook.