The Tokyo 2020 Olympics may be over, but for many jackets, the experience is now a memory they will never forget.
Nine Tech Affiliates have competed in the Olympics this year, including current students, new freshmen, graduates and coaches.
Current students included fifth year bachelor Caio Pumputis who competed for the Brazilian swim team and second year BME Batur Ünlü who competed for the Turkish swim team. Incoming freshmen included freshman Defne Taçyildiz and freshman Berke Saka, who also competed for the Turkish swim team.
Among the alumni were Andrew Chetcuti, BIOL ’16 who competed with the Maltese swim team, Josh Okogie who played for the Nigerian basketball team and Avi Koki Shafer who competed with the basketball team. Japanese ball. Technical coaches include Nat Page, assistant coach of the United States track and field team, and Mfon Udofia, BA ’13 assistant coach of the Nigerian men’s basketball team.
Saka and Chetcuti both had the honor of carrying their country’s flag during the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chetcuti said being named Maltese flag bearer was “unexpected” but that he “was quite excited” when he found out.
Chetcuti also reflected on changes to the Games due to the pandemic, including less interactions with other international athletes, daily COVID saliva tests and social distancing in mess halls.
Despite these changes, Chetcuti said: “It was still the Olympics, so [was] always the same atmosphere.
Closer to home, many tech students competed in the Olympics on campus by watching alongside their venue community.
“I watched the Summer Olympics in the Towers 2 lounge with friends,” said Ophelia Winslett, freshman at BME. “For the opening ceremony, our floor [RA] brought a variety of snacks from different countries for us to try and eat… It was a fun time for us to watch different sports, hang out and socialize.
For Winslett, the Olympics “symbolize that the whole world can come together and enjoy something in common, despite individual differences.”
Winslett went on to highlight the role of unity in the Olympics.
“The Olympics are one of the few events that unifies everyone. Being able to host the Olympics, despite COVID-19, shows people’s commitment to continuing the Olympics, ”Winslett said.
The challenges of hosting events during the COVID-19 pandemic made this year’s Olympic events not only memorable for those who participated or watched at home, but also for the history books.
As the Olympics approached, many tech professors commented on the importance of the 2020 Olympics and discussed the unique challenges of hosting the Games during a global health crisis.
Professors of International Affairs Dr Kirk Bowman and Dr Brian Woodall provided comments in a discussion titled “Perspectives on the Tokyo Olympics,” moderated by Professor of History, Technology and Society , Dr. Mary McDonald, July 22.
“A major issue… discussed was the issue of hosting an international event during a global pandemic,” McDonald said. “… Local public sentiment was largely against Tokyo hosting the Games in 2021. Polls suggest nearly 80% of Japanese believe the Tokyo Games should be postponed or canceled. Local officials feared the Olympics could help trigger a further rise in infections in Tokyo. “
Another issue discussed was the postponement of the Games from their initial date in summer 2020 to their actual date in summer 2021.
“The initial bid to host the Tokyo Olympics estimated the cost to be around $ 7.5 billion (US),” McDonald said.
“The most recent projections suggest that the event cost more than $ 15 billion (US) – of which around $ 3 billion was attributable to the costs associated with the COVID delay. “
As the director of Tech’s Sports, Society and Technology (SST) program, McDonald’s has always been interested in the social, political and economic impact of the Games.
This year’s events, McDonald explained, were unique in that they focused on the mental health of athletes.
“The travel groups for the Games were limited and therefore most of the athletes did not have an extensive support system at the Games. Athletes reported feeling isolated… I can’t remember a sporting event before this where mental health was so visibly discussed in the media, ”said McDonald.
In addition to the unprecedented focus on mental health, McDonald also believes that another “problem that will be remembered is the lack of spectators at the event … Obviously, the athletes are used to the public, this which was certainly a new dynamic to be satisfied “.
School of Psychology professor Bruce Walker also commented in a recent interview for Tech’s College of Sciences on the impact of the Olympics without the usual spectators.
Walker explained that for some athletes who participate in sports that require intense concentration, such as golf or archery, “the absence of fans and the sounds they make can be a blessing. It is easier to focus on performance, which can help some athletes perform at their peak.
However, for other athletes, the noise of the crowd provides motivation and energy.
“The enthusiastic supporters pump the athletes, and the roar of the stands can raise the adrenaline and the grain, and help the athletes to come out a little more of their tired bodies,” said Walker.
“It’s easier to ‘leave it all on the pitch’ when there are hundreds or thousands crying out for you or your team. “
Thinking back to this year’s Olympics, tech students, faculty, and affiliates have a lot to take away and study about the unique events that, like most events in the pandemic era, have been accompanied by so many. complexities and mixed emotions.