• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Rivalry, chivalry and the Tokyo Games

Rivalry, chivalry and the Tokyo Games

At last, the games held. There was something a tortuous run-up to the momentous event. This was in view of that monster, COVID-19. So monstrous that at a point in time the games were threatening to be a non-event. Or what some may call a no-show.

But there was a show after all. But even then, it was a unique Olympic since there were in the main no spectators. The usual crowd had to contend with watching it on the various media platforms. The consolation was that it was like being there. But not quite. Still, such are the marvels of contemporary technology that we did not miss out much.

What was also particularly striking was that even though we were not there, yet the many news outlets ensured that the various dishes were served. Even almost to the point of suffocation. As I watched the various events on television, I also took in the supersonic facilities on display. I could not but wonder whether it would be possible for Nigeria to host an event of this magnitude. I quickly shook myself out of my reverie. I had to remind myself that in a context like ours, where basics like water and power are still lacking, that would be a pipe dream.

The hosting of the Olympics is for those nations who have managed to put in place a number of fundamentals. And as such we are not yet there. This may well explain the kind of ordination that can be seen on the medals’ table. The table is clearly reflective of the power realities in the international system.

With countries like the United States, China, Japan and Russia jostling for the top places and my own Nigeria turning out to be something of a laggard in the lowly 74th position and to booth the 8th, in even the African continent. In fairness, however, the medals table is consistent with the status of the various nations.

Read also: Here is how Team Nigeria performed at Tokyo Olympics

Almost neck to neck, the United States and China were jostling for who will head the table. In times past, the situation was not like this, at least not for China. Somehow the country has come to the fore, such that it is giving the United States, a good run for its might and consequent super power status. At a point in time, the country was even leading the medals table – only to be overtaken by the United States eventually.

If past events are anything to go by, I am sure that some people somewhere in China are now sitting down to determine how this emergent power can be better in the next Olympic Games, which as the reader knows, will definitely not take place in Nigeria, given the untoward realities which abound here.

And talking of Nigeria, we came up with just 2 medals. And in saying this, my heart and thanks go to those who won those medals for us. This is because it is difficult to nurture any form of greatness in a climate like ours. Even the way in which some of our athletes were ousted from the games speaks to this dismal situation.

It will be recalled that, at least 10 of them were disqualified on the grounds that they failed to fulfil some of the drug-testing protocols prior to the games. This is a sad reflection on what passes for sports administration in our country. The situation was worsened by the fact that in numerical terms, there was the valid jibe that, the Nigerian officials far outnumbered the athletes. The US delegation had a reverse situation, since there were more athletes than officials.

It does not take much to appreciate here that access to estacode was the name of the game. And the officials must have gotten this aplenty. And yet Emefiele possibly in his innocence continues to lament that the naira is sinking. But then I digress. So back to the games.

Another touching and rather sad moment for me was when two athletes of Nigerian origin, Eze and Adeleke draped in the flags of other nations, showed off their medals. These could have been counted for Nigeria. But clearly and to be frank, we do not deserve them. After all, if these Nigerians had stayed back here, chances are that no medals would have come their way.

Even then, there was another ugly side to the games. This was in the form of the demons which emerged from the perennial Middle East conflict. The reference here is to the revelation by an Iranian athlete, that he was directed to lose to his opponent in a contact sport, so that he would not have to meet an Israeli athlete in the next round. Clearly, this was against the spirit of the Olympics as espoused by its modern founder – Baron De Coubertine.

This grand ancestor of the Games must have complained loudly in his grave that the Olympic phenomenon was designed to appeal to the humanity in all of us, such that our base instincts would be submerged. But this was not to be as demonstrated above.

Luckily for Baron de Coundertine, he still had a lot to smile about before the closure of the Games. Our reference here is to the interesting episode of the two athletes in the High Jump event. Jump for jump, they were at par. Then came the crunch time. One of them had failed to scale the new height. The other one refused to attempt the fresh obstacle. Rather, he asked the officials whether it was possible to share the gold medal. The answer was in the affirmative. So the potentially victorious athlete preferred to share the gold, rather than win it alone.

This liberal posture of his was in the true Olympic spirit-winning is not everything. Rather, chivalry is the watch-word. And here, I am sure that Baron de Coubertine would have had a lot to smile about. But as a Nigerian, I am not. Rather, I have a long face. There are no prizes for guessing why I am in this mournful state. For all said and done, the just concluded fiesta in Tokyo has just told us again that, our dear country continues to languish in the relegated and relegation zone of the comity of nations. Pity!!