Tokyo 2020 Olympics: An Olympics like no other - if it goes ahead

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A sports writer says it's "too late" for the Olympics to be cancelled now. Photo credit: Getty Images

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In just nine weeks - if it goes ahead - the Tokyo Olympics opens. It will still be called the 2020 Summer Olympics after last year's COVID-19 delay.

Calls are mounting for the games to be canned. After all, there will be no international fans, no hugging, little mingling - tournament organisers have even said no shouting or cheering. Japanese protest marchers have called for cancellation, and Olympic athletes who are breastfeeding their babies are worried about being separated from them.

But it's still the pinnacle of achievement for sports people worldwide - many have trained for years to hit their peak now and many may not get another chance to shine like this on the world stage.

On Monday, The Detail's Emile Donovan talks to freelance sports writer Rikki Swannell about the festivities and highlights of Olympics past, and how Tokyo might compare.

She still gets choked up years later thinking of particular events. One of those highlights was the Black Sticks' women's progression to the hockey finals in London in 2012, and The Detail also speaks to the goalie from that games, Bianca Russell.

Swannell counts among her favourite moments Bolero playing for ice skaters Torvill and Dean, Danyon Loader and his two gold medals at the pool at Atlanta, and the big one, 1998's "Two for Todd and Todd for two" in Seoul as the equestrian and his famous horse Charisma "ignited the Olympic love for me," she says.

While Swannell admits to have become more cynical and realistic about the games as she's got older - the corruption, the bankrupted cities - "you just come back to those pure sporting moments that you think about... it's a real nostalgic thing, you can get a bit misty eyed and rose-tinted about," she says.

"Sport is this ultimate unscripted theatre."

Her first Olympics as a reporter was London for Radio Sport, and she will be going to Tokyo for Sky TV if it's not cancelled. She believes that if it's still going ahead by the start of June, we're away.

"It's too late. They're so far down the path now. It's a lot of money and a lot of face-saving.

"Maybe in the end something good comes out of this too because there's been this kind of thought that the Olympics... it has crippled cities. Athens has never recovered. It took Montreal 40 years to get out of the debt. So maybe it is that things need to be dialled back, facilities need to be upgraded not rebuilt - all of those kinds of things - to make it more viable and feasible, and not cripple places."

And in spite of all the difficulties this year, Bianca Russell says as an athlete at the peak of your powers, you wouldn't turn down the opportunity to go to an Olympic Games.

"It's a dream," she says.


Tokyo 2020 Olympics: An Olympics like no other - if it goes ahead