Olympic Games that nobody wanted confound critics

Perseverance of US gymnast Simone Biles is an apt metaphor for the past 18 months

US gymnast Simone Biles in action during the women’s balance beam final at Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

US gymnast Simone Biles in action during the women’s balance beam final at Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If cynicism were a sport the battle for gold would be a close one. The Tokyo Olympics have been marred with accusations of arrogance and carelessness, cast as a mere cash grab to rival the worst greed the sporting world has to offer, held in spite of Japan’s rising Covid-19 case rates and public opposition.

And the sceptics seemed perfectly positioned for their told-ya-so moment at the end of the opening ceremony. The most controversial games in memory – the ones that no one seemed to want – opened with a muted display that couldn’t quite work out how to commemorate the tragedy of the past 18 months, while also engendering the customary jubilation of the occasion.

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