Tokyo 2020 is finished. Let’s recap the victories, controversies and notable moments from this unorthodox Olympics.
From day one, Tokyo 2020 promised to be unlike any other previous Games with its empty stadiums, infamous cardboard beds and controversial costs. But as the days went along, more and more topics of conversation emerged, proving once again that the Olympic Games are more than a sporting event.
Team GB placed fourth in the Olympic medal count this year, with 65 shiny, brand-new medals to add to the collection. Scottish athletes took home 16 medals, which is an outstanding contribution we all can be proud of.
A list of the Scottish medallists:
Controversies and debates
Some of the rulings, decisions and events which sparked international conversation during the Games.
- The women’s gymnastics team from Germany wore full-body suits to protest against the sexualisation of their sport. “We wanted to show that every woman, everybody, should decide what to wear,” said Elisabeth Seitz, three-time Olympian. The eye-catching stand against leotards was met with huge amounts of support from viewers, especially in traditional Japan.
The full-body suits of Germany's Olympic gymnasts have struck a chord on Japanese social media, with many applauding the freedom of choice in a nation where schoolgirls almost always wear skirts and high heels are still required in some offices https://t.co/7994zJ0S3v pic.twitter.com/vkFfCgDAHW
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 27, 2021
- Similarly, the Norwegian women’s beach volleyball team wore shorts instead of the traditional bikini bottoms, which resulted in a fine of 150 € per person. The events gained international attention and the team said “We really hope this will result in a change of this nonsense rule!” On social media, the fine sparked huge outrage with many, including pop star Pink, who offered to pay the full amount.
- Simone Biles, the 24-year-old American gymnast and the sport’s “greatest athlete in the sport’s history” has withdrawn from the women’s team competition to protect her mental health. Her highly-publicised decision has made a huge impact on the debate surrounding elite athlete’s mental well-being and many praised her for doing the right thing. Her teammates, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum, went on to win silver behind the ROC team.
- After the initial COVID-19 rule, which banned families from the Olympic Village, organisers agreed that nursing mothers can bring their babies to Tokyo. The rule gained traction when Canadian basketball player, Kim Gaucher said she was forced to choose between “being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete”. Later, she expressed relief as Naomi Folkard (Team GB) said the change had come too late for her.
Medals or no medals around the neck, the integrity and spirit of Olympians often catch the eye of viewers. No accomplishment was small in Tokyo, but some moments were especially important.
- Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) and Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) have decided to share gold in the men’s high jump event. They opted to end the competition in a draw rather than a jump-off, which was applauded around the world as an act of sportsmanship.
"We made our dream come true!" ❤
Joint Olympic champions Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Essa Barshim on what their historic, shared gold medal means to them both.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 1, 2021
- Team GB diver Tom Daley won his first Olympic gold which was celebrated all over the UK with joy. After his accomplishment, he sent out a beautiful message of hope and togetherness to the LGBT+ community, adding “I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
- Momiji Nishiya (Japan) and Rayssa Leal (Brazil) became the youngest Olympic medallists at only 13. Both athletes competed in the women’s street competition, which was added as an Olympic event this year. The two skateboarders were ecstatic standing on the podium, Nishiya having won gold and Leal silver. Amazingly, bronze medallist Funa Nakayama (Japan) is also only 16 and more than half of the competitors in the final were teenagers.
- Our very own Laura Muir won silver in 1500m and broke the British record in a race that will be talked about for a long time. ‘I thought, keep pushing, keep pushing. I gave it everything’, she said to The Guardian. Emotions overboiled as she stepped onto the Olympic podium, for the first time ever.
OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST!!
Honestly speechless right now, thank you so much for all the support ? pic.twitter.com/gWV9kqzSK9
— Laura Muir (@lauramuiruns) August 6, 2021
- Hungarian hurdler Luca Kozák helped Jamaican competitor Yanique Thompson on her feel after realising they both tumbled and fell mid-race. After the crucial mistake, they embraced each other as they cried their frustrations out. Viewers couldn’t help but smile at the compassionate humanity of the athlete.
- Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina has retired after competing in eight Olympic Games, every one since 1992. The 46-year-old legend received a huge standing ovation and she cried tears of joy after an incredible career. She finished 14th this year and captured the hearts of people around the world with her heartwarming exit from the Olympic stage. Only 16 athletes, including her, have ever competed in eight or more Games since 1896.
History in the making
As we have mentioned before, this year, for the first time ever there were more women than men amongst the athletes who competed in Tokyo. Other than this milestone, a few great accomplishments have been made which signal growing parity in the Olympics.
- Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete in an individual event at the Summer Olympics. The weightlifter competed in the 87+kg class but her official result is ‘did not finish’. News of her qualification was followed by waves of support as well as a heated online debate about trans athletes.
- Canadian footballer Quinn has become the first transgender and non-binary athlete to win a medal in Olympic history. Their team took gold after a penalty shootout against Sweden.
Trans athletes making history at the #TokyoOlympics inspired me to get back into the gym after a brief hiatus…
Being trans is NOT a barrier to sport ?️⚧️?️⚧️?️⚧️?️⚧️?️⚧️?️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/pdhKufhMsp
— Harry Nicholas (@HarryNicholas_) August 2, 2021
- 88 different nations won at least one medal in Tokyo, making it a new record. Turkmenistan, San Marino, Burkina Faso, The Phillippines, Bermuda and Qatar have all acquired their first-ever medals, deservingly.
After these eventful Games, the Olympic flag has already arrived in France for Paris 2024 where our favourites will return and new talents will bless the stadiums. Sports fans, however, needn’t wait that long because the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are just around the corner and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham start in less than a year.