It's fair to say the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics has been a rocky one.
But with the games officially underway, perhaps this could serve as the distraction we all need from the ever-evolving challenges COVID-19 presents us with.
That said, unlike previous games, it's become increasingly difficult to treat Tokyo 2021 as a celebration. Yes, there will be victories and historic moments and we will come together as a country to cheer our Aussies on. But in the context of a global pandemic, it's hard to embrace the usual sense of excitement and anticipation an Olympics can deliver.
This is particularly true when we consider the realities facing organisers and athletes. Calls for the games to be cancelled continued up to the final moments before last night's opening ceremony, in the face of a growing public health risk. Japan remains in its own state of emergency, and while organisers have promised the competition will be held safely, it's hard to fathom how this will be possible.
The country itself only started vaccinating its population in mid-February, and to date only about a quarter are fully vaccinated. While international athletes and support staff will be tested for COVID-19 everyday, athletes don't have to be vaccinated to compete and only 80 per cent are estimated to have been.
There is a lot of room for things to go wrong. There will be no crowds, no spectator moments and a significantly reduced parade of nations. Still, a global television audience was expected to tune in to last night's opening ceremony and there's no doubt the excitement of an Olympic games could be what we all need at a time when it often feels like there's very little to look forward to.
We have spent the past year and half adapting to change and living our lives somewhat virtually. So it seems only fitting that the games will be unlike no other before. We also mustn't forget the years of sacrifice and dedication our athletes have put towards making an Olympics. Nothing will ever take that away from them - it seems not even a global pandemic.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
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