2020 Olympics Ends In Tokyo As Team Nigeria Return Home With Two Medals
By Amaechi Agbo
The 32nd edition of the 2020 Summer Olympics held at the Japanese capital, Tokyo came to an on Sunday, August 8, 2021.
The Olympic Games was a unique Competition in all ramifications as it was held behind closed doors because of the Covid-19 pandemic,
The Games took place without spectators and athletes were barred from venturing outside the Olympic village.
Their staging has faced local opposition and around 30 protestors jostled with police at the National Stadium before the closing ceremony.
However, other locals have braved heat and warnings to watch events from afar.
Fans took in outdoor events, such as triathlon and BMX, from overpasses and other vantage points despite temperatures that reached 35C, the hottest ever recorded at an Olympics.
The Games’ official sign-off, featuring ska bands, football freestylers, breakdancers and BMX riders, created more made-for-TV memories, culminating in athletes thanking the people of Japan by making a heart gesture with their hands.
A scaled-down parade of flagbearers, missing 62 of the competing nations, started proceedings in Tokyo before an air display team painted the French tricolore across the sky in Paris, the host city for 2024.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto, who appeared at seven Games as a speed skater and then a track cyclist, told the athletes: “There are no words to describe what you have achieved.
“You have accepted what seemed unimaginable, understood what had to be done, and through hard work and perseverance overcome unbelievable challenges.”
She added: “This has made you true Olympians.”
Athletes had daily swabs to test for coronavirus and wore face masks when not eating, training or competing. After they had finished competing, they had 48 hours to leave the athletes’ village.
The Games were postponed a year from their original 2020 date and, as the global pandemic raged, Japanese support wavered, with unfavourable opinion polls in the months before and even the country’s Emperor Naruhito expressing concerns about their staging.
The banning of spectators from most venues denied the Japanese public a chance to watch a summer Games close up for the first time since Tokyo 1964 and the climax of an eight-year wait after winning the hosting rights in Buenos Aires in 2013.
As ever, the Games produced a shower of stars. American swimmer Caeleb Dressel won five golds in the pool. Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah won another three on the track. Gymnast Daiki Hashimoto won two for the home nation in gymnastics.
But, equally inevitably, there were moments that no-one could have expected.
Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim deciding to share high-jump gold rather than contest the title.
Norwegian Lotte Miller consoling Belgian rival Claire Michel after she came in last in the triathlon.
Simone Biles, predicted to collect a clutch of golds, instead highlighting athletes’ mental health as she protected herself by withdrawing from five of her six events.
The next Olympics begin in just 180 days time with the Winter Games opening in Beijing on 4 February. The next Summer Olympics are just three years away, with Paris hosting in 2024, before Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032.
Britain match London tally and set sights high for Paris 2024
Despite a build-up blighted by lockdowns, Great Britain surpassed the 51 medals won in Beijing 2008, matched the 65 won in London 2012 and ended just two short of their Rio 2016 total.
Track cyclist Jason Kenny became the first Briton to win seven gold medals as he retained his keirin title, while Laura Kenny became the most successful female cyclist in history as she took her tally of golds to five with madison success alongside Katie Archibald.
There were new stars as well. Twenty-one-year-old Tom Dean won a pair of golds in the pool, Bethany Shriever and Charlotte Worthington took BMX titles, and Keely Hodgkinson, 19, won a superb 800m silver on the track. Emily Campbell won Britain’s first female weightlifting medal.
Sky Brown became Britain’s youngest ever summer Games medallist in one of the Games’ newest sports with a skateboarding bronze.
“Not only has the team made history but it has probably made history on the back of the most complex and most challenging and difficult environment that we will face certainly in my lifetime,” said Team GB’s chef de mission Mark England.
“It has been against all the odds and I think it is the greatest achievement in British Olympic history.
“This is a very, very young team and a very talented team, and a team I’m absolutely confident that will go to Paris in less than three years and do exceptionally well.”
Meanwhile Team Nigeria returned to the country on Saturday after participating at the Games where they claimed two medals – a silver and a bronze in Wrestling and long jump, respectively
Blessing Oborududu won a silver medal for Nigeria in the 68kg category in women wrestling competition while Ese Brume got a bronze medal in the women’s long jump.
It was a dismal outing for Team Nigeria, failing to reach the medal zone in most of the games they vied for.
Ten of the country’s athletes were disqualified for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.
Also, Blessing Okagbare was disqualified for doping. She was prevented from running in the women’s 100m semi-final and in the 200m.
The country placed 74th on the 205-country medal table.
The team arrived Abuja around 1.00pm on Saturday.
Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare expressed satisfaction with the performance of the team at Tokyo 2020.
The medalists, draped in their green white green and with their laurels hanging around their necks, were the cynosure of all eyes who had trooped to the airport to catch a glimpse of their stars.
“This medal is dedicated to all Nigerians that believe and supported me,” a delighted Oborududu said at a brief ceremony at the airport.
Brume also thanked her coach, officials and all Nigerians for the support before and during the games.