The stadium exploded with earth-shaking applause and cheers when Usain Bolt raced to become the fastest man on earth? Moments like Bolt playing to the crowd and taking a victory lap after his historic win at London games was absent when Lamont Marcell Jacobs achieved a stunning fnish in the Olympic men's 100 metres final in Tokyo on Sunday to take the most coveted title in athletics.
There was hardly anybody in the galleries to cheer up or chant a national anthem as the stadium was caught in the eerie silence except for the gun shots to start the race. The stadium looked like a garden without flowers as spectators have been barred from attending the events in an extended state of emergency as Japan is still struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reports across all Olympic arenas in Tokyo confirm that a joyous atmosphere is conspicuously absent. It has been shaped up as a TV-only event. Athletes are competing in a muted atmosphere as the virus-hit Tokyo failed to muster the required excitement.
To maintain the Olympic enthusiasm, athletes have been cheering as loudly as they could themselves to support each other. It’s a jarring development for the sports world that there are no spectators to support the participants. Like professional sports, many Olympic events feed off crowd energy. No fans means an underwhelming presentation for viewers at home.
According to The Guardian, for people in Tokyo, concern has been replaced by indifference. A thriving city enthusiastically hosting a global sporting event is a sight to behold. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Japan, Tokyoites regarded the idea of hosting the Olympic events with scepticism.
“Right now, Tokyo is not one. That is hardly the fault of the Japanese. With about 80 per cent of the population opposed to the Olympics, fans banned from attending events and Covid numbers surging, it is little wonder the streets are not alive with joy. But the silence - and an absence of signage, flags and adornments - is stark, the newspaper reported.
TV footage showed empty galleries except for a handful of officials, guests and a few members of participating teams. Even the number of athletes is reported to be smaller than most years, due to strict Covid-19 protocols at the Olympic Village. Visitors like journalists and officials have been confined to hotels, venues and the main press centre.
We get Olympics like competition of the highest order every consecutive four years. This helps us get a chorus of excitement, and, most of all, a general celebratory tone. But all these are completely missing this year.
Sports, arguably, have been affected the most of all. The dreaded virus has taken away our rights to cheer and shout for our favourite stars. It has very much constrained where we can go and what we can do --another grim symbol of the state of the world!
The athletes are still showing up and competing even without the ability to enjoy the sights and sounds of Tokyo as they are risking their health. We should be more open enough to appreciate them.