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Lesson of the Day: ‘The Tokyo Olympics Explained’

4. What are the new sports and events this year? Which are most intriguing to you? If the International Olympic Committee invited you to propose a new sport for the 2024 Summer Olympics, what would it be and why?

5. What is your reaction to the two mascots of the Olympics and Paralympics — Miraitowa and Someity? The name Miraitowa is drawn from the Japanese words for “future” and “eternity.” Do you think the ideas of future and eternity best represent the 2020 Tokyo Olympics? What other concepts would you recommend to the International Olympic Committee if you were asked to help redesign or rename the mascots?

6. After reading the article, are you more or less interested in this year’s Olympics? What questions do you still have about the 2020 Tokyo games — or the Olympics in general? Do you plan on watching?

Option 1: Learn more about how the pandemic and postponement have affected athletes.

In “What These Athletes Learned From Their Pandemic Pauses,” The Times features an interview with the Olympic team hopeful Sunisa Lee, 17, who had been prepping to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Games. The pandemic threw those plans off course and brought heartbreaking tragedy to her family, as a beloved aunt and uncle died of Covid-19, just 13 days apart:

What’s helped me get through this year is remembering that it’s been a weird time for everybody. Now I think pretty much everybody on the national team is back training like usual. I’ve been able to do all my skills, but getting through my routines is hard because I need more endurance after taking so much time off.

The biggest thing that’s changed since last year is that there are so many new girls trying for the Olympic team now. It’s crazy how many new girls there are! They’re ones who didn’t qualify for 2020 because they were a year too young, but now qualify for 2021 because the rules changed to let girls turning 16 next year compete. Personally, I feel like it’s unfair, and I’m sure a lot of the other older girls agree with me. It puts a lot more pressure on us older gymnasts, but we do have a lot of experience and that means a lot.

The interview concludes:

Of course, it’s my nightmare that the Olympics won’t happen after all and that I trained a whole extra year for nothing. But I’ve convinced myself that they are going to happen. I have to believe that I’m training for Tokyo. I have to envision it. A couple of months ago, I decided to focus on being more positive, and I think it definitely helps me if I really have a bad day — or a bad year. It helps to remind yourself that things don’t stay bad forever. So 2021 has to be better than 2020. I just know it will be.

I’ll never forget 2020, that’s for sure, because it tried so hard to break me and, you know what? It didn’t.

Read the rest of the article, or one of these Times pieces profiling Olympic athletes during the pandemic:

After a Covid Scare, an Olympic Hopeful Recovers Her Optimism

Adam Ondra’s Race to the Top

An Olympic Dream Dashed by a Nasal Swab

Olympians Have Another Year to Prepare for Tokyo. It’s a Blessing and a Curse.

Athing Mu Might Be America’s Fastest Teenager. How Much Faster Will She Be in 2021?

“‘It’s a Pretty Big Bummer’: Olympic Dreams on Hold” (Video)

Then, discuss with your class: How has the pandemic affected Olympic athletes? What have they learned about themselves through the experience? What does the opportunity to compete in the Olympics mean to participating athletes? What would another postponement or the cancellation of the Tokyo Games mean to them? How does the article, or video, change your understanding and perspective on the Olympics? Based on your research, would you ever want to compete in the Olympics? If you could participate in any event, what would it be?

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