Olympics out of script: wins, losses and a lot of improvisation | Lifestyles


Three of the world’s best-known athletes – Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, and Novak Djokovic – ultimately didn’t do what they were supposed to do in Tokyo, and the ensuing (and productive) conversation about emotional health, mental pressure and learning to take care of yourself permeated the rest of the Games.

While the Olympics are, as they like to say, one of the biggest stages on the planet, there was a lot of improvisation going on.

It was shocking, and understandable, even beyond the stands without spectators. The well-crafted narrative of winners and losers has fueled Olympic storytelling for generations – either – or stories only occasionally interrupted by eruptions and controversies. But this time around, the plots seemed both more subtle and much more disruptive.

That may say less about the Olympics than it says about the times we live in – a confusing, intricate, complex time that resists easy solutions as much as it is filled with people who want to impose them.

Consider the United States, a key Olympic player who has tended to binary thinking for most of its history. For Americans, sometimes to their detriment, historically, things often boil down to black and white, yes or no, winners or losers. There is often a strong aversion to seeing and discussing shades of gray.


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