Amid Ravaging Pandemic, What Will Tokyo 2021 Yield?

The pandemic has been a most prohibitive defining moment in many people’s lives. The world anxiously awaits a restart. As the world slowly and cautiously eyes a ‘soft’ reopening, the question is: Will track and field return to its former glory?

Within the last 12 to 15 years, enthusiasts of sports, not only track and field fans, were in Seventh Heaven, wondering what the future held. With devastating performances from the likes of Jamaican Usain Bolt, a fresh-faced Shelly-Ann-Fraser (-Pryce), Allyson Felix, et anon, the stage was set. These esteemed athletes were a handful of the wealth of talent that spawned the globe, from small countries to large ones. ‘Lightning Bolt,’ for example, highly impressed and influenced everyone, from the struggling athlete to the proverbial ‘Man on the Street.’

Are those the ‘good old days?’ Only time will tell but let us hope they are not. Bolt has thrown in the towel, waved the ‘white flag’ and exited stage left. But speak with young stars, male and female who came up during his period of devastating performances, or those who came after and they will have knowledge of what it takes to get to the top. They continue to be inspired and to dream of ‘taking Bolt’s place.’ It is fair to say that Caribbean sprinters, of both sexes, captured the imagination of the world in Usain’s heyday. As was bound to happen, the world caught up, and passed. There have been some captivating performances, and just like that, the pandemic happened.  

The medical fraternity, respective governments and the world at large have worked feverishly to put the pieces back together. Sports have taken a huge hit. However, after a year’s postponement, the 26th Olympiad will open in Tokyo, Japan. The modern Olympics have only been canceled three times prior to 2020: 1916, 1940 and 1944, during WW1 and WW11. The entire track and field community eagerly awaits the return of competition, and for sure, the spectacle of the summer Olympics – July 23 to August 8.

The question is, will spectators be allowed or return en masse? As Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams said, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Will they? Only time will tell.

Usain Bolt may have taken a backseat, but Misses Fraser-Pryce, Allyson Felix, and the redoubtable Veronica Campbell-Brown are ready to return to topflight Olympic competition.

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