The 2020 Olympic Games, in 2021, are finally taking place.
Tokyo hosts this year’s edition of the games with the opening ceremony officially scheduled for 12 noon Irish time (8pm Toyko time) this Friday.
When the Irish contingent take to the ceremony, they’ll have boxers Kellie Harrington and Brendan Irvine to carry the flag. As it happens, each participating country has been asked to nominate a male and female athlete to carry their nation’s flag in an effort to move towards gender balance.
Team Ireland has a total of 116 competitors at this year’s Olympics, with around half the athletes within the Olympic village and others residing in satellite venues. Indeed, Ireland’s rowers will be competing early on Friday, ahead of the opening ceremony, but what of the Kilkenny and Carlow contingent?
Out first will be rider Sam Watson, his father having previously represented Ireland in the individual eventing during the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul.
Sam hits the equestrian park in Toyko on Friday 30 July at 12.30am Irish time for the Evening Dressage and individual event.
Rising track star Cliodhna Manning could make an appearance later that day as the mixed 4×400 relay first round gets underway. It’s a team event with six travelling for the four track places but we’re hopeful of seeing Manning on the track given her season.
Finally, Carlow sprinter Marcus Lawler competes in round 1 of the Men’s 200m event on Tuesday 3 August but you’ll have to get up early to see Marcus run with a projected start time of 3.05am.
Unfortunately for those competing, there will be no fans or spectators in attendance and even for the opening ceremony, a number of countries are slashing the number of athletes they are committing to the opening march. In a venue capable of holding over 60,000, some 1,000 VIPs, guests and team mates will be watching on.
Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Peter Sherrard says their athletes are aware that a positive COVID-19 test would end their participation at the Olympics.
As of Thursday lunchtime there are 12 new cases of Covid-19 among people involved in the Tokyo 2020 Games bringing the total to 91.
That includes two athletes in the Olympic village – Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs and Czech table tennis player Pavel Sirucek who have both caught the virus.
Sherrard says they’ve informed the Irish team that it’s very unlikely they’d be able to compete should they return a positive test result.
With a week to go yet, fingers crossed we’ll be seeing Sam, Cliodhna and Marcus all in action.