Los momentos más destacados de Tokio 2020. Getty Images
The most outstanding moments of Tokyo 2020. Photo: Getty Images

The good, the bad and the ugly of Tokyo 2020

The atypical Olympic games are done, and have some moments for the history books, and others many will prefer to forget. 


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Tokyo has brought many surprises, some good and others not so much. From new world records to huge economic losses, this is a recount of the good, the bad and the ugly of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The good

With these new Olympic Games also came new sports on the global stage. New categories of sports such as Karate and surfing made debuts in Tokyo. The latter took place on Tsurigasaki beach, about 100 km from the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

Skateboarding also made its first appearance under the ‘street’ and ‘park’ competitions. 3x3 Basketball and sport climbing complete the quintet of the new sports.

Skateboarding also produce the youngest podium in history at the Olympic Games under the female ‘street’ category. The three winning athletes were a combined 42 years old — two with 13 years and the oldest who just turned 16.

In another avenue, Simon Biles opened the debate on the importance of mental health in elite sports. In the words of the medalist Samantha Peszek: “People are going to remember Simone Biles not just as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time) from the perspective of gymnastics, but because of what she has been able to do from an integral point of view, of mental health, of sexual abuse, of all the other barriers that she has had to go through.” 

Tokyo 2020 also opened the door open for new Olympic records and medals. Brazilian Rebeca Andrade became the first Latin American to win a medal in the "all-around" artistic gymnastics of the Olympic Games. Swimmer Caeleb Dressel of the United States broke the Olympic record in men's 50-meter freestyle swimming and took home the gold medal. Venezuelan athlete Yulimar Rojas set a new world record in women's triple jump, with a mark of 15.67 meters.

The bad

The restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been one of the main obstacles that the Olympic Committee had to solve to execute the event in a proper way. This year, the event was held without fans for the first time in decades at most Olympic venues.

On the other hand, as a result of the games, there also was the highest peak of COVID-19 infections in Tokyo, with 5,042 cases. It represents a record number in the capital of the country since the Olympic Games began on July 23.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have also been the most expensive in history. Before the start of the pandemic, the Olympics were reported to cost about $12.6 billion. However, the final price (after postponing them one year) had increased to $2.8 billion, making it the most expensive games ever.

The ugly

In terms of infrastructure, Tokyo 2020 had 43 venues (including the Olympic Village), of which eight were newly built and will be permanent. Twenty-five were existing facilities and 10 were only temporary. The sports infrastructure typically created for the Olympic Games rarely have an economic return, and is why many people already believe these great stages will be an abandoned place in the middle of the city in a couple years.

The suffocating temperatures that players have had to endure during their tournaments have also been a challenge during their participation. In the middle of several competitions, an archer fainted during her elimination round, and several triathletes had to be helped by their race assistants who brought them ice-cold towels when they crossed the finish line. There was also case of the Spanish tennis player, Paula Badosa, who suffered a heat stroke and had to leave the field in a wheelchair during her quarterfinal match.

Finally, one of the biggest discontents in Latin America was experienced with the defeat of the Colombian Yuberjen Martínez, who was eliminated in the boxing quarterfinals in the 54 kg category by Japanese boxer Ryomei Tanaka.

The judges declared the Japanese competitor the winner despite leaving in a wheelchair, while Yuberjen was able to continue. The Colombian Boxing Federation announced that it filed a lawsuit against the Court of Arbitration for Sports, in which they request to review the ruling that eliminated the boxer from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


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