The Olympic Games is the greatest assemblage of people all over the world at the same time. As big as football and the FIFA World Cup is, arguably, it is not above the Olympic Games especially the climax of the event which is the 100m finals. And so every four years, the dream of all athletes is to be a part of the big games and also to make a good impact and fight to get to the podium. Getting to the podium is not easy and never a matter of one or two years’ planning but with a bit of luck and determination, medals could be won by athletes least expected to do so in unusual circumstances.
It is on record that the two Olympic gold medals won so far by Nigeria in Olympics history came as surprises. No one gave Chioma Ajunwa a chance to clinch the gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996 while the Dream Team also went for the football event as the underdogs and not favourites especially with Brazil, Argentina and other top countries on parade.
Last year, the Tokyo Olympic Games was postponed because of the rampaging Coronavirus pandemic and with about two months to yet another date for the games, so many unusual situations are on the cards such that the forthcoming games at any level and in all disciplines are unpredictable. Anything can happen because of the numerous unusual circumstances we are facing. In Japan, 80 per cent of the residents/citizens are saying a big NO to the games because COVID-19 is still prevalent in Tokyo and other major parts of the country. The International Olympic Committee and the Local Organising Committee have worked so hard for the games over the past months and so they are still putting finish touches to stage the event. If the Tokyo Games go ahead as expected, so many other unusual things will be experienced in terms of results, records, attendance and overall assessment of the event.
The ministry of sports and the Nigeria Olympic Committee must work closely with top health officials to ensure the country’s athletes abide with all protocols of COVID-19 and they must all get vaccinated with documentation acceptable at international level. Although there are threats to the games, the preparation for the games must be intensified by respective federations and the ministry. The athletes need better monitoring now that the event is just around the corner. The athletes also need huge education about the dos and donts in current precarious times.
There will be no room for ignorance on health issues at the forthcoming games. The athletes should also be subjected to regular checks such that Team Nigeria would have no issue about COVID-19 at the games which close followers of the games have tagged ‘Unusual Olympics’. It is however important to note that Nigerian athletes somehow shine in difficult situations. The forthcoming event is a very difficult one because of the circumstances but if intensive efforts are made, this could be Nigeria’s best games looking at some of the in-form elite athletes the country will parade at the games.
Today, it is not certain 100 per cent that the Games will go ahead due to the resistance from the people of Japan. For example, Rory Mcllroy – four-time major winner in Golf – has pulled out of the games just as cities expected to host some of the events in Japan have all pulled out. “It’s certainly not going to be an authentic Olympics experience,” Mcllroy said. However, IOC chief, Blake Essig, has insisted that the Olympics and Paralympics will be staged safely. So far, 7,800 athletes have secured spots at the forthcoming games. Journalists are not left out of the unusual situation of the games.
There will be no media centre or media Tribune at the forthcoming event while the journalists will have to stay at their hotels with links provided for them to view events at designated times. No direct interviews will be allowed while there will be no international centre where athletes, officials and journalists will meet on a daily basis at the forthcoming Games. There will be a 14-day isolation period for journalists and administrators attending the games. They will also be subjected to injections every three days at the games. With about two months to the games, the authorities should work on how best to turn the prevailing unusual circumstances into advantage for Team Nigeria athletes. At the end of the day, medals won at the games will be duly recorded as a plus for Nigeria.