A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko

Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Vaccination rollouts have ranged from expedient in some parts of the world to virtually non-existent in some countries

After months of question marks, health concerns, event rescheduling, and general ambivalence about an Olympics being held in a pandemic, those famous rings are starting to shine a little brighter on the horizon.

The 100 days out post arrived Wednesday, a sign the Tokyo Games are just around the corner despite the many hurdles along the way.

“That little tiny blink of a light was really dim before and now it is getting brighter and brighter,” said Surf Canada executive director Dom Domic.

The Games are scheduled to begin July 23 after a one-year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A ceremonial conch shell performance was held Wednesday on Mount Takao as part of the 100-day countdown festivities. Olympic and Paralympic mascots participated in a commemorative ceremony in downtown Tokyo.

“So many days seem to be repeats of a previous day,” said Canadian chef de mission Marnie McBean. “But this one, there’s actually a marker on it that indicates that things have been moving forward.”

However, traditional Olympic hoopla will be muted considerably in the lead-up to the Games and during competition. Fans from abroad are banned and the usual hubbub will be tamed.

Hanging over the proceedings is that COVID-19 is still raging in many countries — including Canada — which is mired in a third wave of the pandemic.

Vaccination rollouts have been expedient in some parts of the world, middling in others, and virtually non-existent in some countries — including Japan. Vaccines aren’t mandatory for athletes to compete in Tokyo but many competitors may get shots by the summer.

The pandemic has also thrown a wrench into qualification plans, competition schedules, travel and training routines.

“We’re making the best of what we can and there’s numerous challenges that we face every single year,” said Canadian wrestler Erica Wiebe, who won Olympic gold five years ago in Rio. “This is just a totally different one, but a challenge all the same.”

Athletes, so often locked into consistent routines in the pursuit of peak performance, have had to adjust on the fly while grappling with pandemic challenges.

Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee, who won world bronze in 2019, said he’s “balancing two minds about it.”

“I have my personal selfish mind that is wholly focused on being in my best shape possible and is excited to stand on the start line and test myself against the best in the world and see what I can do,” he said.

“That part of me acknowledges that going to the Olympics puts me at a personal risk which I can accept. My other mind is my non-personal mind that is looking at the bigger picture. Not only does me going put me at a risk that I can choose to accept, it also has the potential to put others at risk.

“And no matter what efforts I take, I can’t reduce that risk to zero and that is hard to reckon with.”

READ MORE: Fans from abroad not allowed to attend Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19

The gargantuan task of pulling off a Summer Olympics is a monster challenge at the best of times, never mind in the throes of a pandemic. The Games typically includes tens of thousands of athletes, officials, media members and broadcasters from all over the globe.

“I think people still have some doubt and they have questions,” said veteran CBC broadcaster Scott Russell. “All of that uncertainty still exists. But (100 days out) is a signpost that we get past, that we’re that much closer.

“And maybe it is real that the Games are going to happen.”

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to feature a record 33 different sports and 339 events at 42 competition venues.

“I just want to compete with the best of the best,” said Canadian long-distance runner Justyn Knight. “I am just grateful that they are still hosting the Olympics and are giving athletes like myself the opportunity to fulfil our dreams.”

Gracenote, an international data analytics company, is forecasting 20 medals for Canada in Tokyo: four gold, seven silver and nine bronze.

That’s good for a 16th-place tie with New Zealand and Brazil in the virtual medal standings. The United States is pegged to top the table with 114 medals, ahead of China (85) and Russia (73).

Canada won 22 medals (4-3-15) at the 2016 Olympics.

The 2021 Games will run through Aug. 8. The Paralympics are set for Aug. 24-Sept. 5.

Also Wednesday, the Canadian Olympic Foundation launched the Olympians Supporting Olympians Bursary to provide financial support for athletes on their paths to the Games.

The bursary will provide financial awards to 30 summer and winter Olympians and Olympic hopefuls.

With files from The Associated Press and from Canadian Press sports reporter Lori Ewing in Toronto.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusTokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
People aged 30+ in Rutland, Summerland offered vaccine amid high transmission risk

Interior Health offers residents of Kelowna’s Rutland area and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Alex Hegedus (left) with his wife and two young children. (Contributed/Kelowna RCMP)
Family offers reward for information about Peachland man’s suspicious 2018 death

Alex Hegedus died under suspicious circumstances in March 2018

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick summary of the stories that made an impact from May 3 to 5

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Lake Country firefighters assisted the RCMP on Kalamalka Lake Tuesday, May 4. (Fire Department file photo)
Okanagan RCMP interrupt houseboat break-in

Pair in their 30s arrested but no charges laid after alleged Kalamalka Lake incident

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read