In these precarious times, despite all the distractions, it will be the human body that takes center stage – but, this time, for the glory and fear the Olympics are meant to evoke, not the disease-ravaged body.
The first Olympic Games to be held after the devastating Spanish flu pandemic from February 1918 to April 1920 were held in August 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium. Tokyo in 2021 is still in the clutches of the Covid pandemic, and unlike 2,626 athletes from 29 nations a century ago, Japan will see more than 11,000 from 204 nations compete for physical glory. Each discipline, starting with India’s first outing on Saturday 5.30am IST when archer Deepika Kumari is aiming for an individual medal, will take place in stadiums devoid of spectators. And yet, who knows, in this forced vacuum where spectators will cheer only behind physically distant screens, certain medal-winning sports – notably archery, shooting and gymnastics that require concentration and hand-eye coordination – could achieve athletes earlier. heights not reached. Think of it as studio recordings rather than live concerts.