by Dr Reetu Verma
Photo by Kyle Dias on Unsplash

As a sports fan, I have fond memories of attending the Olympics games in Sydney in 2000, the closing ceremony being the highlight for me! And I am excited for the next couple of weeks after last night’s opening ceremony signalled the start of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Although Tokyo’s Olympic stadium is almost empty, couches around the world will be full as over the next 16 days, more than 4 billion people across the world will be watching the world’s greatest athletes pushing themselves past their comfort zone to the next level, showcasing their determination, strength, endurance and commitment.

History of The Olympics

Pierre de Coubertin, the creator and founder of the competitions describes the world’s famous symbol in 1931:

“The Olympic flag has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red. This design is symbolic; it represents the five continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time”.

What is Olympism?

Olympism is “a philosophy of life which places sport at the service of humanity. This philosophy is based on the interaction of the qualities of the body, will and mind. Olympism is expressed through actions which link sport to culture and education”.

Significance of the Olympic Flame

The Olympic flame emphasises the link between the ancient and modern games. Olympic flame is lit at Olympia, Greece several months before the Games begin. The ceremony is held in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in the traditional method of using the sun’s rays reflected on a parabolic mirror usually carried by runners on foot from Olympia to its final destination — Japan, this year. During the relay, the torch said to be a symbol of enlightenment must never go out.

Unity, Strength and Resilience

If I had one word was to describe the Olympics – it is Unity. This year’s Olympic theme is Faster. Higher. Stronger. Together.” highlighting our global shared experience of the pandemic and isolation, that we may be apart but we are not alone, we are all in this together.

The Olympics brings a sense of unity and hope and highlights the endurance and resilience of the human spirit. Training for this years Olympics would have been even more challenging than usual, and the start of the opening ceremony showed footage of athletes practising at their homes, alone. A solitary athlete worked out on a treadmill before other athletes joined her through a light and dance performance symbolizing individuals making connections, even though they are apart.

We have been finding new ways to come together and the opening ceremony reflects that universal struggle sending a message of unity at a time of isolation and hope in adversity.

Some inspiring Olympic moments of resilience, strength and courage:

These athletics are never without challenges but somehow they manage to go beyond their limitations.  However, we do not have to be extreme sports athletes to recognize the health and well-being benefits of being involved with regular sports – physical, mental, emotional and social.

Benefits of Sports

Benefits of actively participating in sport include:

  • Greater fitness
  • Fun
  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Decreased risk of obesity
  • Physical and emotional health benefits
  • Reducing chronic diseases
  • Friendships formed
  • Reduce their anxiety
  • Mood-boosting
  • Confidence building

Creating your own Lockdown Sports Fun

HHH Team Member Sue has some suggestions for sports and activities to keep the family entertained, physically stimulated and emotionally connected during a lockdown:

  1. Obstacle course for kids and the young at heart – be creative and put some props around the house and yard, try to climb, jump over them, crawl through them, limbo under them. See here and here for some obstacle inspiration.
  2. Basketball. You can do this with a ball and box or laundry basket if you don’t have a ring, throw a ball into a hoop/box/basket from a distance.
  3. Weightlifting. You can do this with cans from the pantry. For a beginners guide to weightlifting see here.
  4. Golf– you will need a plastic cup, golf ball and golf club. Place cup at end of the hallway and practise putting into it, keeping score.
  5. Olympic games at home. Some ideas to get you started can be found here and here.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate the spirit of Olympics, have fun!