After a year’s delay due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Summer Olympics are finally underway, with some of the world’s best athletes competing on the track, in the pool, on courts and pitches—but the circumstances are most unusual.
Athletes are masked and living in a bio-secure bubble, safety protocols are strict at the Olympic village, stadiums will be rather empty as the number of spectators has been restricted, and the build-up to the opening ceremony—usually a highly anticipated, over-the-top event—was muted. Tokyo is still under a state of emergency as covid-19 cases rise and public opinion is largely against the Games. But for India’s contingent—its largest ever at 127 athletes—the hope is to return with its biggest haul of medals yet. Our cover story this week is a comprehensive guide to which Indian athletes to watch and our chances at the Games this year.
While the Olympics go ahead despite a delay and increased costs, the pandemic has had a sobering effect on the sports world. Since the pandemic brought local-level tournaments to a halt, players, coaches and organisers who depend on these have been struggling to make ends meet and realise their dreams of reaching the national and world stages.
Many young sporting careers have faded before they really took off—tennis players, footballers, rugby players, sprinters, athletes for whom making a mark is a challenge in a country where cricket gets all the money and attention. One of our stories this week examines the effects of this ruptured talent pipeline not just on individual careers but on Indian sport as well.
If you are looking beyond sport, we have a review of a new book on the Khans, a recommendation for a book of fiction that eerily mirrors the world we live in, reviews of shows to catch up on, shopping suggestions for the monsoon, and music to help you unwind.
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