We experienced a very peculiar sporting summer, certainly anomalous, painful, contradictory, but very lively. We came out of the shell after the long COVID-19 lockdown and we practically faced a new world with more complex rules of common life, which we will probably have to live with for a long time. We also experience the new reality of climate change every day. Let’s face it, we are all bewildered by this news that is overwhelming our daily habits and making us boil. But now let’s recall some of the experiences we’ve had.
TOKYO 2020 First of all, I must say that everything went as I thought. Because I was one of the few that were saying prior that these Games would be of high level, and COVID-19 will not affect the result of the competition. The organisation was very good. There were some problems at the beginning, especially in the area of transportation because the organising committee had not changed the programme prepared for 2020 that was connected with the possibility of using public transportation – which in Japan is excellent. During the 14 days of soft quarantine that everybody had to respect, it was impossible to use this system so we sometimes faced difficulties. There were some moments in which the buses were not enough, even though they were on time. But after this, every problem was solved, especially the one relating to the presence of journalists in the venues. If you remember, before the Games the organisers were speaking about only 50-percent capacity for the press areas inside the venues. In the end, I think we were very close to 100 percent because they agreed to increase the number. I can tell you that, for example, the press stand at the Olympic Stadium was very comfortable with a lot of space and it was possible to work in the best way. It was also the case in other venues. When I went to the swimming competition, to judo, to gymnastics, to all the venues, the installation for the press was top class. We have to thank the organisers for what they did and I want to also thank the IOC press operations that did a lot of pushing in all the previous months to help the Japanese press operations improve step by step and I think that their cooperation led to the result that was very good for the journalists.
THE COMPETITIONS The competitions were great in all the sports. They were very high level because the athletes were focused, and they knew that billions of people were watching them, because when we spoke with Yiannis Exarchos, the Chief Executive Officer of Olympic Broadcasting Services, he told us very clearly that the consuming of the images via streaming and TV was incredible, bigger than any other time. The athletes were not alone in the stadium, yes, there was only us, some coaches, some other athletes, but even these few people were making a great noise and I think that the results were incredible. For example, in athletics something unbelievable happened. Yes, for Italy I can tell you that there were seven minutes that marked Italian athletics history when Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the 100m and at the same time in the high jump Gianmarco Tamberi did something that was never done before; he tied with the Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim for the gold. We discovered that the new shoes and, especially, the new Mondo track at the Olympic Stadium were really special. Look at what Karsten Warholm did in the 400m hurdles with the world record at 45.97 and Elaine Thompson in the 100m and 200m. Now Tokyo is the Promised Land for athletics. There were other dramas, including that of Biles, Osaka and the problems of mental health…. The Olympics were full of news and very nice stories that have also continued during the Paralympics.
FOOTBALL BOILING The world of football is boiling: first, the launch of the, for now, aborted Super League, then the idea of the World Cup every two years. These two perspectives have made UEFA’s nerves curl, while other continental football associations seem more open to the new solutions, which would allow them to cash in more. Everything is being studied, they said, for the good of sport… Maybe, but for now the future still looks cloudy and uncertain. Certainly, there will be some innovations triggered by these two initiatives, but it is still too early to be sure of knowing which direction the international movement will take. One fact is certain for now: clubs are looking for bosses who know little about the sport, but can spend money. The only doubt remains that these modern patrons will one day bring the game to the brink when they see that their investment produces no more money. There is a clear crisis of vocation, one could say in a religious term, so we hope that new solutions that guarantee transparency would be found, because an opaque sporting activity makes people’s passion evaporate.
BEIJING PROBLEMS The working conditions for accredited journalists at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games are still not easy to understand. However, for now – in this moment that we are about to print this magazine – some directives tell us that our freedom of movement is limited and sometimes almost nil. The organising committee held an online meeting with all accredited members of the press on November 5, called “Playbook Stakeholder Briefing for Press” with the aim of clarifying some points in the Playbook released the previous week. Unfortunately, we had the impression that they are still groping in the dark in some aspects.
THE FAVOUR They told us that they have done us a great favour by not requiring twenty-one days of quarantine, a rule in force for everyone, without exception, but for this very reason we have to accept many limitations. We will not be allowed to walk from the Press Centre to the competition venues, even if they are very close. Let’s also leave aside the impossibility of socializing with someone, because the rules created all go in this direction, but the biggest confusion came to mind when they announced that to get to Beijing it will be necessary to pass through four hubs: Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, from which we will then be transported to Beijing with dedicated flights, perhaps all charters organised by the 15 airlines with whom they have signed an agreement – this is similar to a military troop transport operation. The certainty for now is only for the outward journey, because for the return it seems that we cannot decide suddenly to change when to leave, but will have to follow the repatriation programmes established in the original plan of travel. To change will for sure require a new consultation with the organising committee travel department.
WHY NOT POSTPONE It is human that the Chinese government is afraid of new infections and variants that can come from the West, we are aware of this and we can understand it. So why was it not asked before to postpone the event for a year to offer everyone the opportunity to experience it in the best possible way? With this type of organization, we will be a potential enemy for the Chinese public to stay away from. Even before Tokyo we had harshly criticized the Japanese government which had tried to warn its people of us “invaders” and then the situation had changed and the Summer Olympics was a great success. Also, because certain rules had changed and our colleagues were good at following the directions, allowing everyone to work in the best way. Now it is Beijing’s turn to change some absurd and useless directives, because even these Games like those in Tokyo have great potential, but they risk being ruined by bad choices, which moreover do not solve any problems.
Source: AIPS Media