Arigato Japan

By: José Antonio Michelena

Ceremonia de clausura de la Juegos Olímpicos Tokio 2020.
Ceremonia de clausura de la Juegos Olímpicos Tokio 2020.

The noise of ideology in Tokyo 2020

With the brilliant closing ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics came the latest chapter of the most unusual Olympics we have witnessed in our lives. The Japanese epilogue was a festival of music, dance, images, which toured the land of the rising sun and ended in Paris, where the 2024 competitions should be held. Perhaps the multicolored message that the city of light gave us is a sign of the future that so much we long for.

The Olympic Games distracted us for a few days from this pandemic time in which we have passed since the previous year. They were beneficial moments that we used to forget —or put in the background— the fears for health and the macabre noise of so many deficiencies and miseries that hammered our existence.

The unusualness of these Olympics had many nuances, such as the lack of public presence in the competitions -except for those held in the public thoroughfare- or the diversity of speeches in the media and social networks, where ideology and politics struggled against each other. constantly, with all degrees of intensity.

Comments on gender, race, sex, politics, overflowed sports and could become racist, xenophobic, fundamentalist, to offer a scenario of verbal combat that reproduced, covered, adulterated the events in each publication depending on the ideological sign of the journalist , blogger, commentator.

The unbearable practice of cookies on multiple platforms, which makes you their hostage, allows them to know your tastes and preferences to bombard you with their publications every time you enter the internet and social networks.

In this way, you could find dozens of conflicting opinions about the courageous decision of the American gymnast Simone Biles to give up the competitions; the near-kidnapping of the Belarusian athlete Kristina Tsimanuskaia and her subsequent asylum in Poland; the masks during the competition and the message on the podium of the North American shooter Raven Saunders; the strange fight in which the Japanese boxer Ryomel Tanaka ended up in a wheelchair, but was declared the winner over the Colombian boxer Yuberjen Herney Martínez; or the xenophobic attacks on Mo Katir, a Spanish long-distance runner born in Morocco, among many others.

The willpower and courage of women, émigrés, refugees, gays, lesbians, trans, gained prominence in the Games beyond the medals. They made headlines, articles, comments. They are changing the world, it was logical that their faces and their actions would be relevant.

A separate chapter deserves the competences of Cuban athletes – those from the island and those from abroad – and the entire communication scene deployed around them, from the narration of the events to their impact on the media and social networks.

The Cuban sports diaspora has endured the invisibility of the official media for six decades. The qualifiers of traitors, deserters, stateless, non-Cubans, have sought the objective of turning them into non-persons in their native country, in the strict Orwellian sense.

Sure, times have changed. If for many years, within the archipelago, we ignored the exploits, in the best baseball in the world, of Tany Pérez, Miguel Cuéllar, Bert Campaneris, Zoilo Versalles, Orestes Miñoso, Camilo Pascual, Luis Tiant, José Canseco, or Rafael Palmeiro, now Internet allows us to be aware of the performances of Cuban athletes in any professional league.

This has generated changes in the treatment of the official media towards these athletes, with advances and setbacks. However, recognition does not mean standing out, total visibility. They are already mentioned, their curriculum is commented, but they are also sent to the cloud if the case arises, if the decision-makers of the sports communication policy consider it pertinent.

El cubano Pedro Pablo Pichardo, radicado en Portugal, ganó el oro olímpico en el triple salto.
The Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo, based in Portugal, won the Olympic gold in the triple jump.

This happened in the men’s triple jump with Pedro Pablo Pichardo. The athlete born in Santiago de Cuba settled in Portugal four years ago and participated in the competition with the flag of that country. Those of us who followed her on television were stunned: suddenly, after the second jump, the television production stopped broadcasting three times as much and moved to the bullet. When he returned to triple, Pichardo had already made his best jump, on the third attempt, with a fabulous 17.98, unattainable for the rest of the competitors. The hindsight of that golden jump was never given. The next day the triple was offered again, but they cut even earlier. And they never returned to that competition. So that there were no doubts, to accentuate the viewer’s frustration.

The censors of Pichardo’s third jump reminded us how, when they broadcast MLB games on Tele Rebelde, they made an effort not to televise the games where Cuban players intervened, and in the summaries of the best plays, they eliminated those made by our compatriots.

At the conclusion of the spectacular ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after that chain of images that transmit peace, calm, brotherhood, Cuban television considered it necessary to repeat that slogan from another era that now draws a dividing line between Cubans. They wanted the last message we received to be that.

We will see what will happen in Paris in three years.

París 2024 marca la próxima cita olímpica.
Paris 2024 marks the next Olympic event.

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