The daily chats with my visiting Guardian colleagues, even if all but a few minutes of our encounters were online. For all the abnormality – the daily Covid testing, the 14-day quasi-quarantine, the strict social distancing – there was also plenty of what makes the Olympics so special: human sporting endeavour. The raw emotion. It is not always clear from back home but everyone cries at the Olympics. For an Olympics they did not want to host, the Japanese people – or, at least, those I came into contact with – were a model of hospitality. “And I will be in even more trouble if I do let you through,” came the reply: 1-0 to Japan’s boys in blue. When will we see some accountability for that? He thinks the industry won’t see a full recovery for at least a year from now, until there’s a well-deployed vaccine, but he thinks pubs will endure. For casual fans, Olympic surfing in Japanese beach breaks offered a tasty entree and having the world’s best take on Teahupo’o will be a hearty main course. Paris 2024 organisers have scheduled their competition to take place half a world away, in Tahiti, at one of the most fearsome waves in the world.
A 10-time slalom world champion, from a family of slalom pedigree (her parents are former Olympians in the white water), Olympic gold had eluded Australia’s Jess Fox. The duel in the pool between American swim-queen Katie Ledecky and Australian prodigy Ariarne Titmus had been hyped ever since Titmus upstaged Ledecky at the 2019 world championships. The match-up delivered in spades – Titmus beat Ledecky in a thrilling 400m freestyle and then bettered her again in the 200m, before Ledecky struck back in the 800m (and won gold in the 1500m, where Titmus was absent). The understated Canada footballer Quinn, who became the first non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal, a gold one. Tamyra Mensah-Stock, a delightfully bubbly and awesomely powerful American wrestler, almost quit the sport as after her father died in a car crash on the way home from one of her high-school tournaments. ‘Hermann has this way with his questions, they’re more like orders,’ said James, recalling the job offer, but he has taken to his new life and his striking image is becoming increasingly familiar in Iceland.
Once you pay for a Premier Access title like Jungle Cruise or Black Widow, you can keep watching it for as long as your account remains active. The past 18 months have been tough across the globe and landing in Tokyo felt like a journey into a different reality, the Olympic bubble. Walking out of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre at the end of a long day, wave cap hair about 50 Olympic volunteers had lined the exit walkway to wave us out. Wave caps on the other hand are suitable for daytime use as they are more comfortable and minimal. Elite level sports are always emotional, but this competition transcends them all. Centrica has vowed to make all of its vehicles electric by 2025, and British Gas said 3,000 of its 12,000-strong fleet will be all-electric after the vans are delivered. Breakdancing – or breaking as it will be called when it debuts as an Olympic sport.
On Tuesday, a coin called MoonDoge launched. She is 22 and considered the greatest of all time – where will she be at 25? Returning to the real world, via a two-week stint in hotel quarantine in Sydney, wave cap hair will not be easy. Hotel staff put up with my ever-changing taxi requests; venue helpers had answers to all my mundane questions. The new venue cost £415million and has been beset by financial difficulties, losing over £2m each year. Royal Ascot is a highlight of the British summer season and, after a year of uncertainty and lockdowns, the first day of the races today heralds the return of occasionwear for many. It was the highlight of a gobsmacking gold-medal run for the British 25-year-old former cook in a new event that fully justified its inclusion. Whether it merits inclusion ahead of, say, cricket (which was played in Paris in the 1900 Games), is a valid debate.