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28th Jul 2021

9 amazing moments from the Tokyo games that make the wait worthwhile

Simon Lloyd

Better late than never

Despite coming mightily close to never actually happening at all, the 2020 Olympics finally kicked off a week ago. The stands may well be empty over in Japan, but the Games have already proven to be a real crowdpleaser.

Here, then, are 9 of the most joyous and/or incredible moments of the games so far:

Naomi Osaka provides the spark at drab Olympic opening ceremony

Perhaps understandably, the opening ceremony for these Games was a little sombre. The honour of lighting the cauldron fell to Japan’s most recognisable sports star, Naomi Osaka. The sight of the tennis player climbing the Mount Fuji stage and officially opening the troubled Tokyo Olympics was a poignant moment in an otherwise forgettable ceremony.

A robot playing basketball. Because why not?

At this particular moment in human history, you might question if this – a robot effortlessly sinking three-pointers with a basketball – is really what humankind needs right now. Nevertheless, it’s one of the things Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics gave us in the opening week. Why? We’re not really sure, but it was very impressive.

Tom Daley’s tears

At just 27 years of age, Tom Daley arrived in Tokyo as a veteran of three previous Olympics. Few competing in these Games have devoted so much of their lives in the pursuit of Olympic gold. On Monday, all those years of sacrifice paid off as Daley – along with Matty Lee – secured an unexpected victory over the Chinese in the men’s synchronised 10 metre platform.

Daley couldn’t fight back the tears as he topped the podium in what was undoubtedly one of the most heartwarming moments of the Games so far.

Read more: Tom Daley coming out was a defining moment in my gay youth – his gold medal is another

Australian swimming coach becomes a meme

Put yourselves in the shoes swim-cap of poor Ariarne Titmus for a moment. You train relentlessly for Olympic glory for four years, only for them to be delayed. You go again for an extra 12 months, claim gold… and then get upstaged by your coach’s wild and slightly questionable celebrations.

Dean Boxall was so caught up in the moment in the immediate aftermath of the women’s 400m freestyle final that he swiftly found himself going viral. He’s since issued an apology for removing his mask in the process.

Come for the celebration, stay for the terrified steward lady’s futile attempts to calm him down.

Gymnast circumvents IOC rules on taking a knee by working it into her routine

Costa Rica’s Luciana Alvarado took a knee and held aloft a clenched fist in tribute to the Black Lives Movement as part of her routine during the floor event. The 18-year-old explained before her performance that she wanted to highlight “the importance of everyone being treated with respect and dignity”.

She did this despite IOC rules forbidding “demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda in Olympic venues”, which some believed would prevent athletes from taking a knee.

Adam Peaty’s sweary interview

Having bagged Team GB’s first gold of the Games and defended his Olympic title, Adam Peaty was understandably a little bit emotional. Still catching his breath, he dropped a couple of F-bombs as he gave a brilliant interview to the BBC.

We’ll let him off.

Camera boat causes chaotic ‘start’ to the men’s triathlon

Quite how this happened, we’ve no idea, but the men’s triathlon had to be restarted on Monday after a terribly positioned camera boat prevented a third of the field from entering the water at the beginning of the 1,5000-metre swim leg. Fortunately, nobody was injured as the boat quickly attempted to manoeuvre out of the way, and the race was restarted minutes later.

Tom Dean’s family and friends reacting to his gold


In normal circumstances, Tom Dean’s family would’ve been in Tokyo’s aquatics centre to see him win the 200m freestyle in the flesh. Instead, they were thousands of miles away, at home in Maidenhead. At 3am local time, this was how they – along with friends and neighbours – reacted to the final seconds of his glorious swim. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye.

Courageous Simone Biles withdrawing to protect her mental health

With five Olympic golds to her name, Simone Biles arrived in Tokyo as one of the Games’ biggest stars. Her withdrawal from the team gymnastics finals, therefore, came as a huge shock. It later emerged she had taken the decision to pull out to look after her mental health – a call she was rightly praised for.

Her bravery in taking the decision and speaking openly about it afterwards has again shown her to be a role model and offered a glimpse into the extreme pressure high-profile athletes – even the most gifted – have to perform under.

Look after your mental health. It’s important.

Read more: How Simone Biles showed us all how to prioritise our mental health

Read more Olympics coverage:

Commentator sparks outrage after ‘misgendering first openly non-binary Olympian’

Team GB storm to another gold in the pool with victory in 4x200m freestyle relay

Filipino Olympic weightlifter will be given $660k and 2 houses for winning country’s first gold