By Camille Aubin

After a year of delay, the Tokyo Olympics finally made their debut with an opening ceremony full of arts and technology that lived up to the expectations of the entire world. It ended with a spectacular fireworks display in which athletes from across the globe marched into an almost empty stadium to represent their respective nations.

It is a different Olympics this year, following the first-ever postponement of the Games, with the absence of fans, and with COVID-19 protocols in place.

The frailty of humans has been on display for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, and truly there is no better way to show the world how strong, swift, and agile human beings can be than at the Olympics.

Tokyo’s Olympic program features 33 different sports, with 339 medal events. Track and field, swimming, gymnastics, and diving are among the traditional favorites. The 2020 Olympics will feature the return of baseball and softball after a 12-year hiatus, as well as the introduction of karate, sports climbing, skateboarding, and surfing. There are also new events such as 3-on-3 basketball and freestyle BMX.

British Columbia is well represented with 131 Olympians who are either born in the province or currently live there, as part of the Canadian delegation to this summer’s Olympic Games. A total of 371 athletes will represent Canada at the Games.

Each of these athletes was once just a kid who enjoyed playing a particular sport. This hobby developed into a passion over time and eventually into a dream. The hope of doing even better in the next tournament was born. Somehow, for a small handful of people, the ultimate objective of participating in the Olympics has became reachable.

The athletes trained hard, followed a plan, and ate according to regimented. Most have sacrificed for many years to accomplish their goal of going to the Olympics. Now the day has came that their dream became a reality.

There will be millions of spectators watching on television as these athletes display their talents, but the spectators will only see that singular performance. Few watching will understand how long those people trained, nor how many sacrifices they made in the years leading to this special day.

Walking into the stadium at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, dressed in your national uniform, knowing you’re at the pinnacle of your pursuit, that you are quite literally representing your country as millions watch on, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Surely this moment, the opening ceremony, is more meaningful than any medal or podium: it is the celebration of achievement, of hope, of the pursuit of excellence. It’s a lovely reminder, for those watching on from back in Canada, of the possibilities the human experience entails. A reminder that humanity, when it puts its mind to it, can really shine. That collectively, we can, despite our multitude of differences and division, come together in ways that collectively better us. If we can do it for sports, we can surely do it in other fields and on other topics.