THE new sunday express Voices Anand Neelakantan Prof Nisha Kant Ojha Ravi Shankar Shinie Antony Madhulika Liddle Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Buffet MAGAZINE People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment JUly 18 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Illustration: Amit Bandre Tokyo 2020 Guts and Glory The 32nd Summer Games in the Japanese capital is going to be unlike any other Olympics. With fans barred from attending, the Olympiad will be devoid of the atmosphere that athletes feed on. As the world's top sportspersons compete for honour braving the pandemic, Swaroop Swaminathan explains the challenges of hosting the sporting spectacle in these trying times. I n 1908, Ethelbert Talbot, then bishop of Central Pennsylvania, was invited to the fifth Lambeth Conference in London. Held once every decade since the 1860s, ‘the Lambeth Conference is a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion for prayer and reflection’, according to its website. This conference coincided with the fourth Summer Games in London. During the conference, the bishops were given a chance to preach at various churches in the area. Talbot was allowed to address a prayer session at St Paul’s Cathedral on July 19, 1908. It was a service that was attended by Olympic participants and International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials. As Talbot had viewed the win-at-all-costs attitude as abhorrent, his sermon included: “(...) St Paul tells us how insignificant is the prize. Our prize is not corruptible, but incorruptible, and though only one may wear the laurel wreath, all may share the equal joy of the contest (...).” The IOC president at that time, Pierre de Coubertin, was struck by what he had heard. He gave his twist a few days later. In a speech on July 24, Coubertin said, “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well.” Ultimately, this was adopted as the creed of the Olympic Movement. (The above details were in Ture Widlund’s paper titled ‘Ethelbert Talbot: His Life and Place in Olympic History’). That quote rings true especially today Athletes who will compete in . Tokyo will do so in the knowledge that they have had to fight like hell to even reach Tokyo in the first place. **** A Sharath Kamal calls the Olympics a ‘celebration’. A ‘celebration’ of elite athletes descending on a city for two weeks every four years. Having taken part in several—Tokyo will be his fourth—the 39-year-old knows the atmosphere around the Olympic Village and different arenas like the back of his hand. That atmosphere, he readily admits, ‘will be missing’. “I am going there to train, compete, train, compete and leave when it’s time to leave. Will I miss the socialising aspect of the Olympics? I don’t think so. After the year all of us have had, we are just thankful that we can take part. All of us are going to be mindful of the rules, be in our rooms and compete when it’s out turn... that’s about it.” Sharath, one of the senior-most athletes in the Indian contingent, is also eyeing a victory that will be construed as an upset throughout the wider table tennis fraternity A mixed . doubles medal with Manika Batra. For context: forget medalling, no Indian player or team has ever progressed to the quarterfinals in table tennis in the history of the Olympics. So why does he think they have a chance? With just 16 pairs, winning two matches will put them in the semifinals. The break has allowed both of them the opportunity to have several training camps together. It has also showed them that they do have the game to take on the best. At the qualifying event in Doha, the pair took down the World No. 5 duo of Lee Sang-Su and Jeon Ji-Hee. Wins like these add confidence. Even if the two-time Asian Games medallist lost out on training time during the early months of the pandemic, Sharath used it to work on his body He looked at . himself in the mirror, before undertaking tests in body mechanics. He learnt stuff about himself (2016 medallist PV Sindhu also did something similar last year) that he didn’t know before. The effect? “I think in the last 10 years, this is the best I have been, physically and mentally,” he says. It may or may not translate into performances. But one thing is clear. Athletes have used the time out to try and level the playing field. That, in a microcosm, reveals the kind of battles Indian athletes had to face. But it didn’t stop there. Take the case of Sajan Prakash, who recently became the first Indian swimmer in history to breach the ‘A’ time (Olympic Qualifying Time). Though he escaped the lockdown as Thailand was his base at the time, even getting back to the water was a challenging experience. “Those first three-four days... I felt like s***,” he had told this daily last May . “It’s almost like you are rediscovering yourself after more than two months of no water-based training.” It’s fair to say that he has rediscovered himself in the last year. At Rome—a city famous for gladiatorial conquests—the 27-year-old turned in a gladiatorial performance of his own. **** The most common method of legal surveillance is ankle bracelets. It monitors movements 24/7. If the person wearing it moves away from the accepted path, it’s logged in the system in real-time. This ‘offense’ is relayed to officers who make their move to question the person within minutes. There won’t be any ankle bracelets in Tokyo. But there is going to be 24/7 surveillance—all of it backed by the state—to ensure there are no Covid-19 rule breakers. On the night of June 9, a Reuters headline captured the true essence of the Games in the pandemic era. “Athletes will be subject to GPS monitoring, says Tokyo 2020 CEO”. Turn to page 2 the rules that make this olympics unique All participants must live by ‘The Playbook’— IOC’s guidebook which lists out various Covid-19 countermeasures, during their stay in Tokyo. No spectators, daily testing, strict protocol and possible penalties include disqualification and deportation... this Olympics is like never before. Activity plan no sharing of equipment Distancing rule Mask up at all times Medal ceremony games village Testing times Daily dose of test 24/7 monitoring Hospital check-up Press conference failure to obey rules Rules come into force before the Games. Participants are expected to monitor their health 14 days pre-arrival. They are expected to go through the rules and get accustomed to measures. All equipment must be disinfected. Athletes must disinfect their hands before and after use. Items such as towels, drinking bottles and headphones must not be shared. Physical distance must be maintained when changing or showering at all times. Athletes are encouraged to use facilities at the Olympic Village instead of those at the venue. Athletes seated at the ‘Field of Play’ should wear a mask at all times. Won’t be a requirement on team benches. Shouting, cheering and singing should be avoided at all times. Athletes as well as the dignitaries will be required to wear a mask during medal presentation ceremonies, which will take place at the competition venues. No exceptions. Athletes should avoid congestion at Village Main Dining Hall keeping meal times as short as possible. Even outside the dining area, athletes have been advised to maintain distance. Participants must take two Covid-19 tests on two separate days within 96 hours of flight departure time. On arrival, quantitative saliva antigen test will be conducted. Daily testing with a saliva antigen test. If positive, then another test (saliva PCR). For press, it will either be daily testing (saliva PCR) or every four days (based on the level of contact). Athletes are required to install the ‘Online Check-in and Health Report App’ and Confirming Application, and fill in the information that will be needed during check-in and monitoring. If someone tests positive, they will be asked to go to a facility or be hospitalised, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Length of the isolation will be determined by the health authorities. All PCs will be made available online. Press can access the Olympic Village using a guest pass that will allow entry to the Venue Media Centre and to the mixed zone in the Village Plaza. If a participant is found to be breaking the rules, he or she could face disciplinary action. Failure to comply with rules during the Games could lead to disqualification/ exclusion.
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.