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

Just Posted

The draw for May’s Shop Local & Win contest takes place June 4, 2021. (Special to The News)
Open your wallet close to home and win

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce hosts shop local competition

Brian Malfesi and his partner Vincent Jourdenais have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge kayak racer qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Malfesi is first B.C. sprint paddler to race for Team Canada at Olympics in 33 years

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chamber of commerce for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hosts Conservative leader

Erin O’Toole and MP Dalton part of online Zoom meeting on Monday

A photo of Telosky Stadium from the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives. (Special to The News)
Telosky Stadium opened in Haney on this day in 1950

Maple Ridge Museum and Archives marks special day in local sporting history

Transport 2050 is TransLink’s largest ever public engagement. (TransLink, Special to The News)
Last day to take TransLink’s planning survey

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents can have a say in Transport 2050

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read