Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Vive La Olympics

Olympic rings
2024 Paris Summer Olympics Rings in front of Eiffel Tower (Getty images)

Breakdancing. Surfing. Sport Climbing. What do these three popular hobbies have in common? All three will be events in the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Remember the Olympics? Can anyone tell me where the 2020 Summer Olympics were held? That’s right, they weren’t held anywhere in 2020 because of the worldwide COVID pandemic. Instead the Tokyo Olympics were held in 2021 viewed by the smallest U.S. television audience since the U.S.A. boycotted the 1988 Olympics in Moscow.

This summer, Paris is going all out to renew international interest in the games. These Olympics will have several unique events while holding on to the traditions that people expect from the quadrennial event.

Beginning of Paris Olympics torch relay (photo by IOC)

Traditionally, there is an extended torch relay that begins in Athens, Greece, where the original ancient Olympics began. The torch was lit back in April from the eternal flame that continuously burns in Athens.

The torch has already traveled across the Mediterranean Sea to France. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “150,000 people were waiting for the arrival of the Flame for an exceptional, spectacular and festive day of celebrations on the Vieux-Port in Marseille, the first stopover town for the Torch Relay in France.” It is currently making a tour of France and scheduled to enter Paris on July 14, (which is also Bastille Day), to celebrate the memorable times and places associated with the history of France. 

For many, the opening ceremonies are their favorite part of each Olympics. Typically held in the home country’s largest outdoor stadium, where each participating country marches their athletes in behind the flag of their own country. This year’s ceremony, scheduled for July 26, will look much different. It will take place In a 4-mile long procession of barges floating down the Seine River with several hundred thousand spectators expected to watch from the river bank along the route.

Seine river
Computer-generated image of the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics on the River (france24.com)

This year’s Olympics will be comprised of over 75 events. I am really looking forward to watching the Basketball competition. The United States Men’s Basketball team, loaded with the top American NBA players, such as Lebron James and Stephen Curry, are the gold medal favorites. Competition will be tough as many countries feature foreign-born NBA All-Stars on their teams. France has the young 7’4″ phenom, Victor Wembanyama (sound it out slowly). Greece features “the Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced Greek-freak), and Team Canada with its roster full of the most polite NBA veterans, eh.

The first USA men’s basketball game will be broadcast on NBC, Sunday, July 28, at 8:15 am PDT (5:15 pm in Paris).

Track & Field, beginning on August 1, is another of my favorite competitions to watch. There are several intriguing personalities taking part in the running, jumping and throwing. Pay close attention to the very unique race-ending routine of men’s sprinter, Noah Lyles, competing in both the 100m and 200m. Also, Women’s sprinter, Sha’Carri Richardson, who was suspended after qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Games. She is seeking redemption in the 100m sprint.

Olympic gold medalist Ryan Crouser (photo IOC)

Of local interest, Ryan Crouser, a Portland area native, is the world record holder in the shot put. He will be participating in his third Olympics, having won gold medals in the previous two competitions. 

Other popular events I will enjoy watching this summer are swimming, gymnastics, boxing, and, beach volleyball, and, of course, the newest events: Surfing, Sport Climbing, and Breaking.

Surfing for gold in 2024 (photo IOC)

Interestingly, the surfing competition will take place almost 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) from Paris on the world-renowned waves of Tahiti. I believe they should use the Nelscott Reef. Lincoln City is less than half the distance from Paris as Tahiti (Think of the airfare savings). Competition begins on August 27.

Sport Climbing returns (photo NBC)

Sport climbing, known to the casual observer as rock climbing, made its little-known debut as one event in 2021 at the Tokyo Games. This summer there will be two separate events, Speed and Boulder-and-Lead Combined for both men and women. The speed event is simply getting up the wall as fast as possible. The boulder-and-lead combined is a bit more complicated as it is two separate skills that focus on climbing high and climbing accurately. Beginning on August 5, this could be a very interesting competition.

“Breaking” debuts as an Olympic event in 2024 (Photo DW)

Finally, Breakdancing will make its Olympic debut this year. Beginning on August 9, it will be the last event to get started at these games. Alternatively called breaking, b-boying, and b-girling by those in the know, this sport(?) rose from its humble beginnings in the early 1980’s on the streets of the Bronx, New York. “Toprock”, “downrock”, “pops” and “locks” are just some of the names of moves to watch for in this event for men and women athletes.

After the poorly-attended and almost-forgotten Tokyo games of 2021, there is much to be excited about later this month in Paris. From the unique opening ceremonies to the breakdancing at the end of the games, this will be an Olympics spectacle like no other. Follow all the sports on all NBC-affiliated channels (https://www.nbcolympics.com/schedule). 

Enjoy the competition and “Vive la Olympics”! Go USA!

Jason Love
Jason Love
Jason is a long-time resident of Lincoln City and former co-owner of the Ester Lee Motel.

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