It’s a wrap but with a rich record to go down in history.
The Tokyo Olympics was a historical affair in more ways than one can imagine. Making its way through mass backlash and opposition from the locals of Japans, Tokyo Olympics 2020 were already a landmark affair given the Pandemic and COVID-19 norms. However, there are a plethora of other moments that add up to the legacy.
- Tokyo Olympics 2020 came to an end with the closing ceremony on Aug 8, 2021.
- 17 days of Games witnessed history in making with biggest LGBTQ rights, gender equality and mental health activism.
- USA won the highest medals at 104 with 46 golds followed by China at 88 with 38 golds.
- India registered its best ever medal tally at Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The ceremony was monumental to not just the athletic wins, but also social matters like gender equality and mental health. Despite no fans and tourists in the stadium, athletes this year have given plenty of moments that made quite a wave on the internet.
Here are the highlights of Tokyo Olympics 2020 that made the affair historical.
Historic Female Participation
Olympic games have literally evolved through generations when it comes to gender rights. In 2020, a record 48.8% of competitors in Tokyo were female. This is the highest ever, replacing the record of 2016 Rio Games at 45%.
Looking at the history of Olympic Games, this leap forward matters as the event initially banned women from competing when it was introduced in 1996 in Athens.
Not just the sports, women also made up a considerable portion of this year’s IOC organizing committee. 37.5% of the entire IOC membership was female, followed by 33% of the executive board occupied by female. The IOC commission, which is the advisory to the organization on matters such as ethics, science and athletes, witnessed 47.8% women on board.
Loud and Clear Message on Athletes’ Mental Health
Another landmark moment of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 was Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the event in order to prioritize her mental health. The great American gymnast with a par brilliant track record in Olympics and World Championships, called off while in mid of the event, conveying that it was like “carrying the weight of the world”.
Biles was applauded and criticized in equal proportion for the move. While the fans bowed down the athlete for coming clean about her mental condition due to excessive pressure of winning the country gold, critics rebuked the move as a scapegoat for underwhelming performance.
Biles stated that she couldn’t sleep all night and was shaking the night before the event day, due to excessive stress. Later, she withdrew from the match but only to return stronger. After training hard for another match, she won U.S. bronze.
Gymnast’s mental health advocacy for athletes is a staunch debate-starter as to how much is too much for a sportsperson?
Canada’s Quinn becomes first trans athlete to win Olympic
Another history making moment was observed on Friday when the first ever openly-transgender Canadian athlete Quinn won the nation a gold medal. Member of the women’s soccer team of Canada, Quinn is also the first non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal.
This isn’t the first time that Quinn won the medal. They previously won a bronze medal with the Team in 2016 Rio Olympics. However, it was only in Sept 2020 that they openly came out as trans.
Norwegian women team brings down the sexism
After more than 15 rigorous years of campaigning the Norwegian female beach handball team finally decided to shut down the sexist outfit culture in the Olympics. Dumping down the traditional bikini bottoms that women are mandated to wear during the match, the team made history by wearing thigh-length shorts same like their male counterparts.
The protest resulted in the final decision during the July European championship and was unfortunately, fined 1,500 euros (£1,295) for going against the dress code. Still a long way to go or the Games fraternity.
However, women in the team received ample support, the major being Pink who offered to pay the fine for the team.
Voluntary Shared Gold medal
Tokyo Olympics 2020 were a fanfare of historic moments. Another on the list is the shared gold medal won in the High Jump match. What makes this shared win most special is the fact that the pair voluntarily decided to share medal instead of going for a jump-off, sending out the message of “friendship, solidarity and fair play”.
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi emerged as the stars of the day after acknowledging each other’s brilliant performance. While generally Olympics doesn’t allow sharing medals, High Jump and Pole Vault are the only exceptions.
Philippines’ first gold ever
The small Southeast Asian country finally opened its gold medal account with the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Athlete Hidilyn Diaz won the nation its first ever Olympic gold medal for weightlifting whopping 127kg.
The 30 years-old Diaz broke Olympic record by lifting 224kg in combine weight. This is a historic moment for the nation as prior to this gold win, the nation had a tally of just 10 medals- 7 bronze and 3 silvers.
This landmark victory holds more gravitas as Diaz’s Olympic preparations, like many other athletes, was haulted due to COVID-19 restriction while being stuck in Malaysia.
The miraculous sibling victory
The Japanese siblings Hifumia and Uta made history after winning a gold medal each on the same day in individual sports. While it sounds like the plot of a motivational Hollywood movie, Tokyo Olympics 2020 were no less than one.
The younger Uta, 21 years-old, first won a gold in the judo finals of the women’s 52 kg division. This win was followed by the elder sibling Hifumi, 23-years-old who carried the legacy ahead in the men’s 66 kg final.
Gender acceptance and true “pride” with Tom Daley
Tom Daley might not be the first gay man to win an Olympic medal, however, he still was a trailblazer of LGBTQ rights. The British diver not just won two medals- a gold and a bronze- for the nation, he redefined and solidified what gender acceptance looks like at a global stage.
Daley spoke openly about his sexuality and the struggles after winning the medal with the cornerstone statement, “I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
Sending out the message what a man in sports look like, Tom Daley didn’t shy away from embracing his true self while he was knitting during the event. Daley told the Sky News that he loves knitting and that it is a part of his mindfulness practice.
He thanked his mother, husband and son for “helping him feel so loved”.