I know what you’re going to say: “They have!” And yes, they have. There have been lots of Olympics games. Even Mario & Sonic put aside old rivalries to compete, though it’s obviously unfair having those characters against each other because Mario is always going to win a plumb-off. And actually, while it says they’re at the Olympic Games, I’ve been watching and they’re not, you know, they’re not there. So that’s a lie, Sega. A big fat lie.
But I don’t mean that kind of Olympics game. I don’t mean the kind of game that’s filled with mini-games you have to button-mash your way to victory in, although I do rather enjoy this because everyone looks silly while playing. It’s a lot of fun. But I’m talking about something a bit deeper. Because what really struck me while watching Tokyo 2020/2021 – I’m still watching it (I’m watching it right now) – was how powerful the human stories are in it.
That moment when Simone Biles pulled out of the team gymnastics: that was one of the moments of the games. But it wasn’t because she won or got the highest score, it was because she was suddenly human. That conversation about mental health that arose afterwards was brilliant, and sorely needed. Did anyone see GB diver Chris Mears on the BBC shortly afterwards, opening up about his battle with depression following his Rio 2016 diving gold? It was a wonderfully refreshing moment of TV, and brave of him to share it. I would never have considered a gold medal could have that effect.