It May Be Lights Out On Tokyo 2020 But Flame Now Burning For 2021

VIVID MEMORIES: Sydney's Opera House, the iconic starting blocks of the Sydney 2000 triathlon and an iconic landmark on Sydney Harbour. Photo Courtesy AOC.

Australia’s Olympic family has reacted collectively and positively in the face of enormous adversity to the news that Tokyo 2020 will now become Tokyo 2021 with the Australian Team hash tag remaining #TokyoTogether.

Athletes with their dreams on hold, households struggling and thousands of people out of work, including many coaches and teachers.

But where’s there’s a flicker of flame..there’s hope.

In Sydney there are two iconic landmarks, our Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – the starting blocks of the Sydney 2000 Games – centrepieces as we celebrate the 20th anniversary milestone of “the best Games ever.”

Every year our Opera House lights up to showcase an annual two-week light show spectacular called VIVID, that lights up the famous harbourside but like so many major events, the lights of VIVID ’20 have been switched off.

But like the Olympics it will return with VIVID ’21 – bigger and brighter than ever and that’s just the reaction from a country that is one of only a handful to have attended every Games since 1896.

That history is embedded in our psyche, every four years, households that turn on to the Olympic Games – to brighten their lives.

Athletes young and old and coaches have had their sporting world’s turned upside as they too come to grips with a world that is in a dramatic spin.

Dean Boxall and Ariarne Titmus

WORDS OF WISDOM: “They [athletes] can see short-term. It’s not a long-term thing, so that’s close enough for them to see that dream is still alive,” says Dynamic swim coach Dean Boxall (pictured here with 2019 world champion Ariarne Titmus). Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Coaches who have instilled that hope in their athletes, like Australia’s ASCTA Coach and Youth Coach of the Year, Dean Boxall, who is in charge of Australia’s No 1 team at St Peter’s Western in Brisbane with dual Olympian Mitch Larkin and aspiring Olympians, like Ariarne Titmus, Clyde Lewis and Jack Cartwright in an exciting Tokyo-bound group.

Boxall, himself preparing for his first Games, told the Sydney Morning Herald’s Phil Lutton: “The dream is alive mate. The flame is still burning. Tokyo 2021 … I love that. Doesn’t it sound good? Because 2020, we’ve had droughts, bushfires, it’s been no good at all.

“The good thing is it’s not 2024, it’s 2021. They [athletes] can see short-term. It’s not a long-term thing, so that’s close enough for them to see that dream is still alive. It probably gives them more time to be better.

“None of this is in the play book but isn’t that a good thing? I’m a bit unorthodox anyway. It’s not in the play book so we can map the next steps here. Once things are a bit more normal and they can train, we can be a bit creative, move things around, look towards competition.”

Janelle rain

RAINING CHAMPIONS: Olympian and now swim coach Janelle Elford at Cotton Tree on the Queensland Sunshine Coast this week. Photo Courtesy: Jangle Elford Instagram.

And then 1988 Seoul Olympic finalist Janelle Elford, now Sunshine Coast Swim Coach in a squad that includes her four-time FINA World Junior Champion Lani Pallister, with her sights set on a Tokyo dream.

But for coach Janelle, she is now out of a job for the first time in 35 years.

Monday was her final day at the pool…a day that started out coaching in the rain…and in her own words…” miserable, but still working, still coaching the kids and still smiling.”

But by the afternoon, like so many squads, it was to be their final session and she posted on Instagram.

“Pool closed tonight. Very surreal, very scary times. I am now stood down, without a job like so many other Australians.

“First time in 35 years I haven’t a job to go to.

“My heart goes out to all but we will re-build. We will come back. We will be stronger.”

And saying to her squad…..”Give yourself time to reflect, adjust and move forward best you know how….Until we come together again..stay safe, keep fit, talk things through and look after each other…”

Although life as we know it has changed forever…you can’t help but think that Olympic spirit gives us all a flicker of hope…that’s all we need.


DAWNING OF A NEW ERA: Olympic icon Dawn Fraser with 1988 Olympian Janelle Elford and daughter Lani Pallister, with her eyes on Tokyo 2021. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

1 comment

  1. Andy Muller

    Well, the lit olympic flame is going to stay alight all the way until the closing ceremony in 2021. The Olympic Light is on!