Students reflect on the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games


Aimee Yang

Zachary Kurtz, Staff Writer

“[The Olympics] certainly added a bit of excitement back into our lives when there hasn’t been much going on this past year,” Jiyon Chatterjee (11) said. During the Olympics, everyone is able to come together to see incredible athletes do what they do best, he said.

This summer, Tokyo held the 32nd Olympics Games between July 23rd and August 8th. The games, which were delayed a year due to the pandemic, consisted of 339 events in 33 different sports. While there may not have been fans in attendance, many students and faculty took the time to watch the games from home.

This summer’s Olympics brought together 11,091 athletes from 206 different countries. The Olympics can be unifying because all of the athletes, no matter what country they are from, have been training for this moment their entire lives, so they have a lot in common, Dalia Pustilnik (12) said.

Despite this unity, Pustilnik observed a lot more controversy leading up to the games than she had in past Olympics, she said. From Sha’carri Richardson’s disqualification to the ban on the Soul Cap, Pustilnik was not surprised by the incidents of racism showing up in sports, she said.

American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the team event finals, though she later went on to win a bronze medal in the balance beam finals. Biles withdrew due to mental health issues and a loss of spatial awareness that disoriented her while in the air.

The public’s response to Biles’ withdrawal caused Nitika Subramanian (11) to reflect on an issue in the sports world, she said. “I was annoyed to see how people were treating athletes like machines,” she said. “Simone Biles has performed incredibly well; it does not make her less of an athlete.” 

Ria Chowdhry (12) had not seen as much of a focus on mental health in prior Olympics, she said. In the past, some athletes have set aside their mental health in order to push through their competitions, Chowdhry said. “Mental health issues don’t just arise in one day, people deal with them for a while,” she said. “I find it interesting that this year is when we saw a lot of athletes discuss their mental health journey because maybe in past years they have not felt as comfortable in sharing what they are going through.”

The US Fencing team also sparked controversy by allowing Alen Hadzic, a fencer accused of sexual assault, to compete, Pustilnik said. “That was really awful and just showed a real lack of prioritization for the safety of the other members on the team.”

With COVID-19 as an ongoing global issue, Corey Brooks (12) viewed the Olympics as reckless and inconsiderate towards the safety of those involved, he said. Brooks also felt bad for the athletes because there was always the risk that the Olympics would be canceled, he said.

While Pustilnik felt it was a shame that the Olympics couldn’t host any spectators, including the athletes’ families, that safety measure was necessary to keep participants safe, she said. Given the circumstances, Tokyo did a good job handling the situation, Pustilnik said.

In contrast, Alex Nagin (12) was disappointed in the COVID-19 precautions at the Olympic games, he said. While watching the events, Nagin saw many coaches and others on the sidelines not wearing masks when they were supposed to be doing so. 

The Tokyo Olympics was unique due to its addition of four new sports — skateboarding, surfing, karate, and sport climbing — as well as the reintroduction of baseball and softball, which were featured in past Olympic games. The new sports made the Olympics much more interesting to watch than in previous years, Chowdhry said. “When you add new sports, it appeals to a new audience,” she said.

Pustilnik enjoyed watching skateboarding, especially because all of the winners were so young, she said. 

Because a variety of sports was always featured on television, Steve Yang (11) watched whichever events were featured on television at the time, which allowed him to see sports that he would not normally watch, he said. Yang also paid close attention to some sports that he follows throughout the year, such as tennis, he said. 

During the Olympics, Subramanian found herself becoming very patriotic, she said. She frequently checked the medal count to see Team USA’s standing and couldn’t help but feel proud of the American athletes when they won, she said. 

For Chatterjee, the Olympics go beyond each nation’s pride. The games represent the feats we are able to accomplish as human beings, he said. “Just to see us overcome all the things that the world has gone through and still excel, to me that’s really meaningful and powerful.”