Lekan Sowande, Abuja


From Friday, July 23, 2021 sports lovers across the world will stay glued to their television sets as the 2020 summer Olympic Games officially begin in Tokyo, Japan.

The Summer Olympic Games, also known as the Games of the Olympiad, is the biggest multi-sports event in the world and it is held once every four years.

The Games was first organised in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and was most recently held in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This edition of the Games which were originally scheduled to take place from 24thJuly to 9thAugust 2020, but had to be postponed in March of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is for this reason that the Games would be held behind closed doors with no spectators permitted under the state of emergency declared by the Japanese Government.

This will be the first time in the history of the global fiesta that the Olympic Games would have to be postponed and rescheduled, rather than cancelled. Despite the rescheduling to 2021, the event still retains the Tokyo 2020 name for marketing and branding purposes.

The Games of the thirty-second Olympiad, will see the introduction of new sports including 3×3(Three by Three) Baseball, Freestyle BMX and the Madison Cycling, as well as further mixed events.

Under a new International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy, the host organising committee is allowed to add new sports to the Olympic programme to augment the permanent core events. Accordingly, during the Tokyo Olympics, events such as Karate, Sport Climbing, Surfing and Skateboarding will event their debut.

Since its first edition in 1896, the scope of the Olympic Games increased from a 42 competitive event programme with 14 nations participating, to 306 events attended by 206 nations in 2016.

In Tokyo 2020, 18,000 athletes and officials are expected to compete in 339 events in 33 different sports, encompassing a total of 50 disciplines with 37 venues across Japan.

Nigeria  will be represented by 52 athletes, made up of 23 men, and 29 women competing in nine sports, namely, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball for men and women, Canoeing, Rowing, Table Tennis, Gymnastics, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

Since making its debut in 1952, Nigeria has participated in every edition of the Summer Olympics, except for the 1976 Games in Montreal, Canada because of the African boycott as a result of the apartheid rule in South Africa. Since then, Nigeria has won a total of 24 medals, mostly in athletics and boxing.

The Nigerian football team won the gold medal in 1996, Silver medal in Beijing 2008 as well as bronze medal in the last edition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.

In 2000 following the IOC’s decision to strip the United States of America 4 by 400 metre relay team of their medals after Antonio Pettigrew confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs, the Nigerian quartet was awarded the gold medal years after the games.

In Tokyo 2020, Nigeria’s biggest hopes are in Athletics, Weightlifting and Wrestling.  Olympic veterans Aruna Quadri and Olufunke Oshonaike are medal prospects in the men’s and women’s table tennis singles.

Africa is being represented fully in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games by 50 countries with the hope of winning medals for the Continent.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government has set aside about three point six-seven billion dollars to cover the cost of hosting the Games while the Japanese government has eased airspace restrictions to allow an increased slot capacity at both Haneda and Narita airports.

A new railway line has been put in place to link both airports through an expansion of Tokyo Station, cutting travel time from Tokyo Station to Haneda from 30 minutes to 18 minutes, and from Tokyo Station to Narita from 55 minutes to 36 minutes.

The 68,000 capacity sitting National Stadium in Tokyo that will host the opening and closing ceremonies is where the track and field events, including the women’s football final will take place.

The Olympic Village, which was officially opened few days ago, is located at the Harumi waterfront district of Tokyo, around six kilometres from the National Stadium making transportation to the main venue very easy.

As the world looks forward to the commencement of the 2020 Olympic Games, it is believed that a new generation of athletes and stars will emerge who will dominate world sports for the next few years.

It is believed that the fiesta will leave a huge sporting, economic and social legacy not only on Japan, but the entire Asian continent and the world at large. This will be in line with the Olympic Spirit which is not winning medals but participation and making friends across the world as the greatest gain of the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.


Confidence Okwuchi

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