All the best to our athletes in TokyoFriday, July 23, 2021
For a while all seemed set for cancellation because of the novel coronavirus. But after being postponed for a year and enduring numerous hitches and hiccups, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics formally and ceremonially opens within hours. Thousands of athletes from more than 200 countries in 33 sporting disciplines are set to participate in the Games which will end on August 8.
And while today is listed as the official opening, competition in softball and football actually began on Wednesday.
Worry about COVID-19 persists, with scores of positives among thousands of tests conducted over recent days on those connected to the Games.
Eyebrows were raised and nerves jangled this week when word came that a highly placed member of the host's organising committee had suggested the Games could still be called off, even at this late stage.
However, with the spend estimated to be well in excess of US$15 billion, and the fact that thousands are already in Japan or are en route, it would surely take a new development of catastrophic proportions for an about-turn at this stage.
The Games — the first to be held without spectators — has been described by some as an opportunity to offer “hope” and “light” in a world shrouded by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Support from the World Health Organization (WHO) has helped, with that organisation's head, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, insisting that it presents an opportunity to show what can be achieved with the appropriate and strict application of protocols.
As is usual at the Olympics and other global competitions, Jamaicans will be looking mainly to track and field for medals in Tokyo. That's for good reason: Since this country first took part in the Olympic Games while still a British colony in 1948, only cyclist Mr David Weller with bronze at the Moscow Olympics of 1980 has ever won a non-track-and-field medal.
Older boxing fans will recall that former world champion and master technician, Mr Michael McCallum, reached the quarter-finals of the Montreal Olympics in the welterweight division in 1976. He was among the favourites for a medal approaching the Moscow Games when he was cruelly sidelined by illness.
Apart from track and field, Jamaicans in Tokyo are also entered in boxing, judo, swimming, diving, and gymnastics.
But, yet again, track and field, which opens on July 29, will take pride of place for Jamaicans. This will be the first Olympic Games without Mr Usain Bolt since that 'super hero' made his début in Athens, 2004.
Now, all eyes are on the women's sprints featuring defending double Olympic champion Mrs Elaine Thompson-Herah, former two-time 100-metre champion Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and the lion-hearted Miss Shericka Jackson.
There is serious concern about Jamaican men's sprinting, but Mr Yohan Blake, 31 years old and still the fastest behind Mr Bolt in the 200 metres and 100 metres (tied with Mr Tyson Gay for fastest in the latter event) can't be ignored.
Jamaica also has medal prospects in the women's 400 metres, women's 800 metres, the individual hurdles, the relays, the jumps, and throwing events.
We wish our athletes the very best at this most challenging of Olympic Games.
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