Olympic Games XXXII: A Unique Perspective – UPDATED

Last update: 08/18/21

Day 1 – July 23

What is the purpose of the Olympics?

Well, the official statement says, “The Olympic Games are an international sports festival held every four years. The ultimate goals are to cultivate human beings through sport and contribute to world peace.” Basically, its purpose is to bring people together from around the world to compete at the highest level of athleticism and at the same time, promote world peace. Wow, that’s a lot of pressure on these athletes.

What am I doing in Tokyo?

I have told a few people that I am here competing in the men’s synchronized swimming, which, if you know me at all, there is no way that could even be possible. The reality is that I am here in Tokyo to support the over 6,000 crew members involved in the broadcast efforts of the Olympic Games. We also have a similar purpose, which is to bring professionals together from around the world and to capture and share pictures and sound with billions of viewers worldwide through TV and radio. Wow, that’s a lot of pressure on these crew members.

Over the next three and a half weeks, I’ll bring you some insight from my perspective on what and why things are happening and hopefully provide you with some beautiful images along the way. Wow, that’s a lot of pressure on me.

Day 3 – July 25

This years’ celebration is like no other in history or the Olympics. In these unprecedented times of living through a worldwide pandemic, we celebrate the world’s best athletes without spectators, take daily COVID–19 tests, and obey extended quarantine and strict social distancing rules that are in effect all around Tokyo.

“United in Emotion,” the title of the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, has an extremely purposeful meaning. Sports can be compared to music as a universal symbol that brings individuals together from around the world. They speak different languages, are raised in various cultures, and worship different gods. But the emotions of winning or losing remain the same, no matter who you are or where you are from.

The opening ceremony acknowledged the emotions that we have felt this past year through the pandemic. The ceremony has also brought a sense of hope for the future, celebrate our differences and inspire us to live with compassion for one another. All this takes place as we celebrate the culture and people of Japan.

This year, as we try to move back to what we call “normal,” I realize that I am surrounded by individuals from all over the world who work together behind the scenes. From Japan, China, Brazil, London, Canada, France, and the United States, it’s truly a unique and rewarding experience to have these professionals by my side. We will work towards a common goal to provide the viewing audience the best experience possible. Now more than ever, we will try to bring a sense of normalcy back to all our lives.

Day 5 – July 28

The XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan, has brought new sports this year, adding up to 41 highly competitive events. Athletes will compete for 339 different gold medals. This year, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding are just a few new sports added. Today alone, many first-time athletes won medals who in years past never even thought it was possible.  Yesterday two 13-year-old girls won Gold and Silver for women’s skateboarding; what a great day for them and the future of skateboarding as a sport.

What’s the purpose of adding new Olympic sports? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) focuses on its customer relationship management, and to keep individuals interested in the Olympics, they need to provide relevant and exciting content for all viewers. To make this happen, they look at the host country’s Organizing Committee and allow them to add five games for that Olympic year.

Today was a big day for me too, I hit the 14-day soft quarantine today, and with a few friends after work, we traveled to Shibuya, basically Times Square of Tokyo.  I walked around and admired the respect of crosswalks and traffic, unlike NYC, and then enjoyed a simple dinner, then proceeded to take the train back to the hotel. Since arriving, all workers, participants, athletes, and more are required to stay in the hotel unless they are working or participating in an event for 14 days. The purpose, of course, is to try and control the spread of COVID-19. Today we were let free, and what a great feeling that was just to get out and see some of Tokyo.

Day 8 – July 31

Currently, I am sitting in the broadcast center where more than 1000 camera feeds are coming in from all over Japan to share throughout the world the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020. An estimated 9,500 plus hours of content will be produced and provided to networks around the world. What’s the purpose of the major broadcasting company, you might be asking yourself?  Essentially, it’s to provide fair and even coverage of all represented countries during the Olympic Games.

You may be sitting at home watching your favorite sport right now, but 6,000 crew members are trying to ensure that the games are fairly shared throughout the world. Showcasing not only the best athletes but showcasing each country fairly and evenly, at the same time ensuring the content provided is suitable for all ages.  As you can imagine, some athletes may not always agree with the outcomes and have words to share with the cameras and the reporters, but that content is locked away and never to be seen.

We can all agree that we have times when we don’t represent who we are and what we believe in the best possible way. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone on your side making sure that side of you never gets seen? I am reminded of the passage in Romans, chapter 8 verses 31-32:  What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Today the first-ever mixed triathlon competitors showed the world how working together and can achieve greatness. Men and women are working together in one sport, going for the Gold. If you haven’t watched it, I won’t give it away, but it’s a great race and would encourage you to look. Let us continue to work side by side and with the strength of our God, who is always there for us.

Day 10 – August 2

Running is the oldest sport still played in the Olympic games today. It was the only sport played in the Olympics for nearly 40 years. Top athletes worldwide compete in 100 and 200 meter races to determine the fastest man and woman on earth. Today was a riveting day with athletes from Italy surprising everyone. Marcell Jacobs grabbed the Gold Medal for the fastest man in the 2020 Olympics, and his teammate, Gianmarco Tamberi sharing the Gold in the men’s high jump.

Being the fastest is not just about speed; it’s about timing, it’s about stamina, it’s about skill, and it’s about willpower. Today, I listened to more athletes thanking God for giving them this talent and ability to achieve these goals than ever before.  I was able to share those moments with others, and hopefully, that message will be shared worldwide.  All these athletes are competing with the hopes of winning a medal, some more than others, and having the winning combination gives you the ability to achieve more than you ever thought possible.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are almost over, with less than a week away from closing ceremonies. Athletes worldwide have come and gone from Tokyo, having a small window of opportunity to compete for something only very few can.  Isn’t it great knowing that God has given these athletes the ability to do what they do and that some of them understand that God-given talent and then share that message with others around them to hopefully spread the word throughout the ends of the earth!

Day 13 – August 5

I had the opportunity to wander about Tokyo. It reminded me of Manhattan and Miami. Among the tall buildings is a centralized downtown, a financial district, as well as an area like Times Square.

Then there are the waterfront properties where boats go up and down small canals and rivers all day long. They transport people from home to work and back again as they endure 95º heat and nearly 90 percent humidity.

I walked just a little more than 10 miles, which took all day because I made many air-conditioned stops along the way. Traveling throughout the city has been a great experience. As I walked, I thought about the athletes who are dealing with this heat and how difficult that must be for the best ones in the world to train for all climates and varying temperatures.

Day 14 – August 6

With only three days left until the closing ceremonies, I begin today with the Olympic Race Walk. Yes, you heard me correctly—race walk. You remember those speed walkers we all see in the mall; well, this is an actual sport.

I know, I’m just as shocked as you are, and I’m up early to watch the 31 miles of individuals race walking. I know from my walk yesterday that 12.5 miles are way more than what I can do, especially in the Olympic record time of three hours.

So, what’s the purpose of race walking, you say? Since 1904, race walking has been a part of the Olympic games. Noblemen of the Victorian era used to bet on the footmen who traveled with them to see who could walk faster into an arena. They would even bet on who would be the first to drop out of a six-day, 1,000 km marathon.

It’s a sport like no other and has many rules and regulations that the walker must obey or be penalized for breaking them. It’s a sport that just about anyone can do, from short to tall. If you can follow the rules and have the stamina to walk at a swift pace, then start your training today. Maybe you can be ready for PARIS 2024.


Day 16 – August 8, 2021

The closing ceremonies are about to start, and I am packing for my flight home, which leaves Tokyo at 11:45 am. Today was an incredible day. I watched the various sports take place and paid specific attention to Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya who won his third Olympic men’s marathon. What a fantastic race; and to just see him at the end, catch a few breaths, and then look as if he could go for another 20 km or more.

Watching the women’s volleyball competition and seeing the USA take home the gold in three games against Brazil was just phenomenal. As I watched those final two games today, I felt pride in the U.S., teams. This past year, they went through the pandemic. These athletes had to figure out ways to train without their teammates, without the facilities, and come up with ways to keep on doing what they love to do.

As I sit here watching the closing ceremonies spoken in Japanese, I reflect on something I heard the head of the IOC say the other day. He said that these athletes did something no other athletes have ever done. They cheered for opposing teams. They encouraged competitors to keep going and to do better. They sparred in the Olympic village together. They played volleyball outside in the Olympic village together. They came together without division and were united. The hashtag devoted to these games was #strongertogether, which rang true throughout the entire time.

These games will never be forgotten. They are the 2020 Olympic games played in 2021, they are the first games played after the pandemic, they are the first games played without spectators, and they are, in my opinion, the first games where athletes became stronger together and created a sense of peace among themselves that was stronger than before.

Thanks for reading my posts and seeing my images these past few weeks. I hope you enjoyed them, and maybe we can do this again in Beijing 2022 or Paris 2024. Stay tuned.

by Joe Pritchard