Arab News Japan
TOKYO: The scene of Japanese kids accompanied by their parents waiting at the entrance of the Olympic Village in Tokyo has become part of daily life for people in the neighborhood.
Olympic athletes leaving and entering the village has become a memorable part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for them.
The area has become like a checkpoint on a border separating two countries. Due to the coronavirus scare and security restrictions, people without accreditation cannot enter the Village where the athletes stay. But for local children, it’s a golden opportunity to meet and greet world-class athletes.
The Japanese congratulated two German gold medalists when they returned to their home base after the canoe 1,000-meter event. Max Hoff and his teammate, Jacob Schopf, signed autographs and allowed the Japanese kids to approach them and even touch their Olympic medals.
Another champion, British canoeist Liam Heath, who won the 200 meters sprint, was also acclaimed by Japanese fans.
Blond Brazilian skateboarder Pedro Barros was very popular and showed his Japanese fans his silver medal through the fence that separates the public from the athletes.
British athlete Ben Whittaker, who won a silver medal for boxing but declined to celebrate his victory on the podium, had a change of heart after the ceremony. When he finally returned to the Olympic Village, he had cheered up a little and seemed proud to show his silver medal to the Japanese public.
Two other British athletes who competed in the marathon race in Hokkaido said they were following the philosophy of Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin who helped create the modern Olympic Games. He famously said: “The most important thing at the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not prevailing but fighting well.”