Four Indian Olympians weigh in on how the upcoming Games in Tokyo will be different for competitors, with pandemic restrictions barring any contact between them and fans
Handball player Jesper Noddesbo of Denmark with fans after winning the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics Games. Pic/AFP
Anjali Bhagwat, Shooter, 2000 Sydney Olympics
Olympic Village vibe
Those who are going to the Olympics for the first time will not know the difference, but other athletes will. There’s a difference between the normal competitions and the Olympics. The latter is the ultimate dream of an athlete, because the whole world will be tuning in to see their performance. Living in the Olympic village is also a great experience. The spirit there is different and you tend to feel special. Not sure how it will be now, with the restrictions in place. I think the athletes should be happy that the Olympics are happening in the first place, because if it were to be cancelled completely, it would have been a waste of four years of hard work.
Akhil Kumar, Boxer, 2008 Beijing Olympics
In battle mode
See, a boxer is like a warrior — you’re told to fight, and you enter a battle. When we are in the ring, we don’t even realise that people are watching us. So, it doesn’t matter whether they are there or not, because our vision is eventually towards the podium. Yes, players want praise for motivation. Ghar mein naacha mor kisne dekha? But the focus is on putting up your best performance. No one goes to the Olympics for a holiday, and the boxers this year will just have to understand that the battle is against an unseen opponent.