If You Win Gold at the Olympics, but There Are No Fans There, Did It Really Happen?

Japan has announced that the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead under a state of emergency and without any spectators at events in the capital in an attempt to prevent another nationwide outbreak of COVID-19.

Athletes, staff, media, and other participants will be kept in a “bubble.”

Other areas outside the capital that are hosting events may have some spectators, Japanese media have reported, and organizers may seek exceptions to allow VIP guests, including members of the International Olympic Committee, corporate sponsors, and foreign dignitaries. (To me, this makes no sense; either ban everyone or no one. But I guess money, and rank, have their privileges).

I am sure this was a tough decision, as Japan was counting on these Olympics to demonstrate that the country is “back” after decades of economic stagnation and a 2011 triple disaster that brought a massive earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. They were meant to showcase the country’s place as both a tech powerhouse and competent organizer of international extravaganzas.

Financially, it seems as if Japan is destined to take a big loss, and I feel bad for all those who spent so much time and energy putting this spectacle together.

So far, one athlete, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios, has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics, saying playing without spectators “doesn’t feel right.”

It will be interesting to see if more athletes follow suit.

From my perspective, it seems like a weak excuse.

Perhaps part of it is my background as a swimmer. First, it is generally a low-volume spectator sport, and second, most of the time your head is in the water, making it difficult to hear the four fans who might be cheering you on (thanks, Mom, Dad, Aunt Eileen, and Mary!).

I didn’t swim for the adulation of fans, and my guess very few Olympic athletes do.

They do it for the love of competition, for the chance to set a personal best, for the experience of being with athletes from around the world.

They do it for the Olympic motto:

Citius – Altius – Fortius.

Faster – Higher – Stronger.

Fans in the stands would just be icing on the cake.

But the athletes can rest assured that there will be millions of fans watching them on TV, myself included.

So yes, if you win a gold medal, it really happened…


48 thoughts on “If You Win Gold at the Olympics, but There Are No Fans There, Did It Really Happen?

  1. I guess I’m a fan of fans. I didn’t watch football last season, because I like to hear the fans in the stands (and live fans, not canned fan noise). So I doubt I’ll be watching the Olympics. To me, live fans help make the sport exciting.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Fans definitely add to the atmosphere, but I can’t believe someone would pull out for that reason. I don’t know if you have watched Nick Kyrgios play, but he is the definition of an enigma. So much talent, but for some inexplicable reason, he has these tantrums on the court. Sometimes he throws in the towel and doesn’t try. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCH5CYTkJUI

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Seeing the tens of thousands of fans cheering on their athletes and waving their country’s flag in the stands has always been an enjoyable part of the games for me, but the lack of fans will not lessen my enjoyment of or respect for these premier athletes striving to achieve their best. Nor will it lessen their achievements. I hope we can have plenty of parades and celebrations upon their return to show our athletes how proud we are of their representation of our great country. For the athletes, if the lack of adoration and adulation from spectators lessens the experience for you, it is probably better you stay home any way. I am pretty sure they do not use an applause-o-meter to determine medalists.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree that hearing chants of USA, USA does give me goosebumps, but I would gladly get rid of the fans if it meant the competitions could still take place. Let’s hope we have lots of parades when these athletes come home…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. it is odd that the majority of Japanese citizens do not want the games to take place, yet they will still take place. and hopefully with the athletes living in a bubble they will be well-protected…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kyrgios is an idiot at the best of times. He pulled out of Wimbledon, allegedly injured, so might not have been fit to play the Olympics anyway. The absence of crowds will make a huge difference, though. Wimbledon has been much better for having them, and the Euros too. The amazing scenes after England games have added so much to our enjoyment, and I fear the Olympics will be a damp squib.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree that the fans add something to the experience, but I am confident I will still enjoy the games without them. And I am sure the athletes will still work as hard for the gold medal, with or without fans. And the games may be better off without Kyrgios. I like your final expression – damp squib; seems similar to wet rag…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I expect I’ll enjoy the sport, but it will still feel like something is missing – as it has done with so much tv sport since the pandemic began. Yes, they’ll work as hard, but it won’t be the same for them, either: just think of high jumpers urging the crowd into rhythmic clapping as they run up to jump. The games will be better off for the absence of anyone who chooses not to participate.

        A squib is a firework, so a damp one isn’t any use – must be a British phrase, though it often gets turned into ‘damp squid’ by those who don’t know their own language!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. that’s true that some athletes do feed off the crowd…

        and that would be embarrassing to mix up squib and squid… I just checked to make sure I didn’t 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. first of all, I love your title. I’m a huge fan of the olympics and plan to happily cheer from the living room or any other gathering place where we can watch the spectacle. I feel for Japan, as you said, this was supposed to be a glorious comeback event for them, and it has turned into a logistical and financial nightmare for them. I don’t think that cities always benefit financially from hosting, after all of the initial outlay necessary to get it up and running, but it does showcase their city and bolster their reputation. unfortunately, in this case, I feel Japan is really going to take a hit on this one. that being said, I admire anyone who has the skill and drive to make it to that level, and I am in awe of each and every one of them, these are athletes at the top of their game, and a fine thing to witness. yes, they all deserve the gold.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love the Olympcs as well, especially the summer ones. and I look forward to watching as much of it as I can. And I do feel for Japan; if the athletes stay healthy, that is something they will be able to be proud of.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You get an adrenalin rush from hearing and seeing the fans, so I do feel for the athletes. But like otbers have said I can’t imagine quitting after all the time and hard work that it took to get to the Olympics!
    The Olympics will be extra quiet this year but that doesn’t diminish the achievement of the athletes at all! I like how you ended the post. Well said! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. for some of the athletes, the Olympics may not mean as much, such as the professional basketball and tennis players. but for others, like swimmers, track and field, and figure skaters, the Olympics is the high point of their athletic career.

      and yes, anyone who has made it to the Olympics has earned it…


  7. I agree. Why spend years of training to let your ego get in the way and decide not to go because of the lack of spectators. I feel for Japan because they will be left with massive debts, but they are trying to be responsible, give or take a few privileged people. That’s politics and that is everywhere. Of course the TV network is going to make a mint.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s been my impression that hosting the Olympics has been a dicey financial risk even when things go well. Tokyo and Japan must really be taking a bath on this. As an athlete, of course I wouldn’t pull out, but I’m guessing it will be a little lonely/eerie for those athletes accustomed to a packed house (such as gymnasts).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure there are going to be big financial losses for Tokyo this time around; talk about bad timing. And it will be different without fans, but the athletes are use to putting on long hours of practice with no fans around to cheer them on…


  9. I have never been lucky enough to attend an Olympic event, so I am optimistic that the excitement of watching on television will be the same for me and that athletes will still be able to achieve dreams. Interesting to remember why Carter pulled the US out of the 1980 Olympics.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It won’t be any different than watching other sports for over a year without a live audience, but a real shame. Japan is so desperate to put money over health. That county is only 15% vaxed! Who would want to go there. They should have postponed another year, even though I get that for some athletes, this may be their last year chance. There’s no winning solution here. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The gold medal only counts if a tree simultaneously falls in a nearby forest … and someone hears it fall.

    My son lived in Japan for seven years and now lives in L.A. but continues his work as a Japanese translator. He still has contacts and friends in Japan and tries to stay up-to-date. It appears thar holding the Olympics now is quite unpopular with the vast majority of the Japanese public.

    I plan to watch but probably not as much as I would have in the past. I would be very surprised if Covid does not play a significant role in the results. They have already had one person test positive in the Olympic village, and the games are still a number of days away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. what a great skill to have these days to be able to speak two languages; I’m jealous of your son…

      and I can see why the Japanese people arenot thrilled with having the Games take place; fingers crossed that the Games go off safely…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am super proud of my eldest son. He came out of college with the tools to develop a wonderful skill – speaking and writing Japanese. And he did so without breaking the bank with student loans, which he was able to pay off quite quickly after graduation.

        Liked by 1 person

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