Tag Archives: Countdown]

Tokyo: 21 days to go

1 July, 2021

Three weeks until the ranking round begins (oh, and a little something called the opening ceremony) – time for a round up of everything that has appeared in the last week.

Pics via KAA

The KAA shared photos of the training venue they have set up at the national Olympic sport centre in Jincheon. As with several previous Olympics they have built a kind of facsimile of the finals arena for their charges to train on. The enormous expense this must have entailed gives an idea of the resources that go into protecting the biggest South Korean Olympic medal ‘banker’ of all. It obviously makes for good, very visual publicity for the NOC as well.

Although I was also wondering: is it really worth it? If you’re that good, shouldn’t you be able to turn up to any field and deliver the goods? I guess this piece of theatre has worked so far, so they are hoping it will work again. And they can practice against each other; let’s face it, the chances of them having to compete against each other in the last three rounds are pretty high. This year, they seem to have skipped the traditional ‘training in a baseball stadium‘ which characterised previous buildups. Maybe they’ve avoided some of the more tedious publicity work this time round.

Did you know you can donate directly to help Japanese athletes? If you use Visa, they’ll match it. I suppose I wasn’t expecting Japanese sports to be funded quite so directly.

Perhaps more NOCs should have the digital begging bowl out. Over at Team GB, they seem to prefer you buy something from the gift shop. I mean, these T-shirts are pretty boss:

They also have an ‘Archery’ T-shirt, with an extremely abstract design on the front. I guess it’s supposed to be a sight:

Despite a high-profile announcement re: spectators – the plan was to cap venue attendance at 50% of capacity or 10,000 – whichever is the greater – there now seems to still be a threat of holding the whole thing behind closed doors. The impact on archery wouldn’t be too great, the impact on the athletics stadium (capacity 68,000) will be enormous.

There will apparently be a final decision on Monday. This is on the back of mixed news re: COVID in Japan. A vaccination programme has finally started gaining momentum, although the famed ‘Delta variant’ seems to be going around already. Once it’s in, it’s not getting out. The worrying case of an athlete from Uganda testing positive on arrival in Japan, after apparently passing a COVID test and being fully vaccinated, is either an outlier or a worrying harbinger of what is to come in the next few weeks, as 60,000 or so athletes, journos, technicians, broadcasters, judges, coaches and federation wonks begin to descend on Tokyo. This bell-end isn’t helping, either. There was also some more news about beer and condoms.

Yahoo News! shared a piece detailing the privations that journalists will have to face when reporting from Tokyo; broadly, you’re not allowed to go anywhere or do anything at all, on pain of having your accreditation revoked and/or being thrown out of the country – not even walking. This will be enforced by a tracker app on your phone:

Daniel Castro has been selected for the single men’s spot for Spain. A lot of people thought that Pablo Acha would be going, as he is, y’know, the new European Champion, but apparently the selection was based on World Cup placings. Castro paid a lengthy tribute to Acha, and several other people on Facebook, which is a lovely read in translation.

Deepika Kumari (above, right) became the world recurve number one after her triple medal haul in Tokyo – for the first time since 2013. She takes over the number one spot from Lisa Barbelin, who had held it for, like, a month after her Euros triumph. She took over from Kang Chae Young, who has been there for a couple of years, I understand. World Archery have now added continental rankings as well. (This photo, taken by Dean for World Archery, is one of my favourites of the year.)

TeamGB are sending a 13-year-old to Tokyo, amid more rumblings about just how many less medals GB will be winning overall, after the record-breaking haul from Rio. There will actually be a slight overall increase in funding for the next cycle.

There has been a softening of the policy that forbade athletes to take young children “when necessary” to Tokyo. This is of course far too late to help the relevant parents and children, including Naomi Folkard, who had already made extensive plans:

National Olympic kits are being revealed, if they haven’t been already. I usually enjoy the quadrennial fashion sniping – and the apparently post-ironic Canadian kit needs discussing – but there’s something I really like about the South African kit. It looks so casual, and so.. normcore. It represents what a lot of us have been doing for a year: lounging around. It doesn’t feel the need for a grandiose national statement. It’s very on brand for right now.

More news next week.