August 4, 2021

Under the sign of the Covid, a Games unlike any other

He didn’t think his slogan would be taken literally. « Discover tomorrow » (“Discover tomorrow”) urged the Tokyo Organizing Committee in 2013 to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to award the capital of Japan the Olympic Games, then scheduled to take place in the summer of 2020. Tomorrow is sometimes far. Friday July 23, one year less than a day after the scheduled date, the Olympic cauldron will ignite and the Olympic Games of « Tokyo 2020 » will open.

But after more than a year of pandemic linked to the new coronavirus, the “discovery” promises to be the opposite of what Japan anticipated eight years ago: under the sign of uncertainty, as illustrated by the few. cases of Covid-19 detected within the Olympic Village or among the athletes due to attend, a few days before the launch of the Games.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also The Tokyo Olympics put to the test of Covid-19, five days before the opening ceremony

Like the organizers, the athletes had to deal with a changing situation and adapt their preparation. “Every day and every week is different, you never know what’s going to happen, insisted French judoka Clarisse Agbegnenou in March. Even though we know that the Games are coming, it’s a bit complicated to train properly: last week, for example, we were at rest, with cases of Covid-19. “

Designated since flag bearer of the French delegation – in tandem with the gymnast Samir Aït Saïd -, the five-time world champion explained that she spent a year « bizarre » : “You have to know how to adapt, you lose hours of training, you have to do things differently. “

Cozy atmosphere

While the health crisis has not spared any country, not all athletes have experienced it the same way. For some, the postponement was a breath of fresh air. “In February and March 2020, I was not throwing very far, I was tired of Doha [les Championnats du monde 2019]. I lacked teeth, relates the French hammer thrower Quentin Bigot. When I was told the postponement, it relieved me. “ Having become a dad, the vice-world champion (in 2019) made some adjustments and said to take ” more pleasure “, noting his progress. “Passion allows me to be two to three meters more than the same period last year, which is not nothing. “

Others have experienced the lag less well. “I feel like I took another year”, blows Maxime Beaumont. Silver medalist in Rio in single-seater sprint (200 m), the kayaker wondered when the postponement was announced. “I had some doubts about my ability to keep the level. At 39, will the body follow suit? “ A year later, reassured about his performance, the Frenchman will be at the start of “These very special Olympic Games, in the era of the health crisis”. With one goal: “I still want to be an Olympic champion. “ Even if the medal ceremony may ring hollow.

You have 64.94% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.