Successful Tokyo Olympics cheers up the world, inspires Beijing Winter Games to house domestic audience
Published: Aug 06, 2021 08:48 PM Updated: Aug 06, 2021 09:50 PM
Tokyo Olympics Photo:VCG

Tokyo Olympics Photo:VCG

Overcoming the obstacles and opposing voices under the shadow of the unprecedented pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic Games, which is drawing to a close, turned out to be a huge inspiration to athletes, spectators and the world.  

On the field, a total of 37 gold medals by Saturday morning have lifted Team China to the top of the medal table, more than the US. China is eyeing its best overseas Olympic record as well as the first time as gold medal leader outside China.  

Off the field, observers noted that the success of the Tokyo Olympics under huge pressure is a desperately needed inspiration for the world. Tokyo's experience in carrying out a major international event under such circumstances sets an example for next year's Beijing Winter Olympics, experts said. 

Team China aiming for top

The Chinese delegation is eyeing its best overseas Olympic record. The most gold medals claimed in an overseas Olympics by Team China was 38, in London 2012. In Rio 2016, Team China bagged a disappointing 26. With a big bounce-back, the athletes surpassed the number in Rio halfway through the Tokyo Games, and are eyeing to set a new best. 

Analysts said Team China now retains the possibility of setting a new record and could also surpass the US in total gold medals. 

Contrary to the predictions of most Western media outlets prior to the start of the games, the current medal figures show that the US is unlikely to gain a significant lead over China in the final gold medal count. Whether China or the US takes the lead, the difference between the first and second place in the final ranking will be "very small."

"As Chinese athletes have won the most gold medals, we often get admiring glances from athletes from all over the world in the Olympic village," a Chinese medalist who preferred to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"As a Chinese athlete, I am very proud, for we are strong not just in sports, but in overall national strength."

After the difficult fight against the COVID-19 in 2020 and some subsequent international unfriendly voices, another show of confidence and strength in Tokyo poses special significance for China, observers say. 

Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based sports commentator, told the Global Times that Chinese athletes' outstanding performance is powered by China's epidemic prevention, which has guaranteed them consistent training. Some promising athletes' quitting the Olympics due to the COVID-19 hurt the US' overall competiveness.

The Chinese delegation still did not let their guard down in Tokyo. The athletes have been abiding by stricter prevention standards. 

"We wear masks everywhere, even with our own Chinese athletes, and we would disinfect ourselves whenever going out or dining," the Chinese athlete said. 

Some Chinese athletes who finished their competitions have returned, and they would undergo a 21-day quarantine in various cities. 

The Chinese athlete who returned to Beijing on Friday said that he will take a break during the quarantine period and then will return to training for China's National Games in September. 

Aside from China's medal success, the Chinese audience is having more and more to watch beyond winning, as more of them now appreciate the human touch in the Games. 

Instead of being driven by extreme emotional outbursts, the Chinese public is experiencing the Olympics with their athletes as a friend and confidant. 

The audience encouraged the failures, followed the emergence of new stars like teen diver Quan Hongchan and shooter Yang Qian and the persistence of veterans like weightlifter Lü Xiaojun and shot putter Gong Lijiao, and was moved by the legacy of Chinese athletes from generation to generation, retelling stories of the table tennis team and the women's volleyball team. "Our athletes have never been 'gold medal machines,' as claimed by some Western media," said a netizen.

In many events, China did not win medals but made historic breakthroughs, including rowing, sprinting and sailing, all of which were applauded by netizens.

"What is most touching is not necessarily the winning of gold, but the Olympic spirit of continuous breakthroughs," wrote China Central Television, sending a message to the athletes and spectators. 

A man wearing protective face masks walk past the logo of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games displayed on a wall of The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, March 25, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

A man wearing protective face masks walk past the logo of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games displayed on a wall of The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, March 25, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

Tokyo overcomes unprecedented hardships

Beyond the results of the games, the success of the Olympics in Tokyo itself is a much-needed inspiration for the world against the backdrop of an unprecedented pandemic.

"The Tokyo Olympics offered me a new starting point and a platform to showcase my efforts in training and compete with other outstanding athletes to realize my dream," the above-mentioned Chinese athlete, who beat his personal best in the Olympics, said in expressing his gratitude to Japan for holding such an event.

"Japan provided athletes great service with a variety of food, clean venues and comfortable shuttle buses," said the athlete. "We could see sanitizers and disinfectants everywhere, the dining tables have boards to separate diners, and the cardboard bed was conformable unlike the rumors suggested." 

It's not just the athletes competing in Tokyo and Japan, even the whole world is inspired by this human event, experts told Global Times.

The success of the Tokyo Olympics has provided confidence and hope, Da Zhigang, director of Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people fell into a pessimistic mood and even suspected that international traffic would be limited for a long time," Da noted. "The Tokyo Olympics showed us a possibility for people to return to normal life together with the virus."

In the midst of an epidemic that has torn governments and public opinion in many countries, the Olympic motto, which just added "together," conveys a spirit of global participation and cooperation, Da said. The Olympic spirit of sportsmanship also brings a ray of hope to a depressed world.

The Japanese government and people have made a lot of sacrifices and contributions to run this Olympics, which is worthy of our recognition and appreciation, he added.

Customers shop at a store offering merchandise for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Monday. The shop opened on Sunday. The opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 games is scheduled to take place on February 4, 2022. Photo: cnsphoto

Customers shop at a store offering merchandise for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Monday. The shop opened on Sunday. The opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 games is scheduled to take place on February 4, 2022. Photo: cnsphoto


Beijing 2022 options

The success of the Tokyo Olympics is also encouraging news for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, observers said, as it proves that through strict epidemic prevention and control plans, events involving large international exchanges of people can be held even under such severe epidemic conditions. 

Although thousands of confirmed cases are still reported in Tokyo every day during the Olympic Games, fewer than 400 infections among Olympics-related personnel have been reported, representing a very low percentage of the total number. Although there were cases of athlete infections, almost no events were affected.

"Tokyo's experience explored the possibility of hosting a major event while coexisting with an epidemic," Da said.

At the same time, experts noted that the current epidemic situation in Beijing is far better than what Tokyo is facing, and China has been having solid results in epidemic prevention.

An expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention who requested anonymity told the Global Times that unlike the Tokyo Olympics which has many in-door events, many events of the Beijing Winter Olympics will be held outdoors, making it possible that Chinese will be able to watch the events in person.

He said that many health experts are confident in preventing the resurgence of the epidemic in Beijing and surrounding areas during the Winter Olympics, and spectators are likely to enter and leave the stadiums through different channels to completely separate audience from athletes and working staff to lower infection risks. 

Zhao Jisheng, a professor at the College of Physical Education and Sports of Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Friday that even if the Beijing Winter Olympics continued the "no-spectator mode," Chinese media and technology in data transmission which has already been tested in Tokyo Olympics will definitely perform better next year. 

Zhao said that Tokyo paid great attention to details during the Olympics, such as coloring the spectator seats to create an atmosphere of a sporting event and providing enough supplies for athletes in each stadium, and Beijing could learn from Tokyo.

"Tokyo implemented precise and scientific prevention and control this time, rather than complete rigid prevention and control," Da said, "which can help keep the atmosphere, public opinion and quality of the Olympics intact while controlling the outbreak as much as possible."

"I believe China will do great in holding the Winter Olympics with Tokyo's lessons, and I am not worried," the athlete returning from Tokyo told the Global Times.