Blessed with good weather and free of incidents such as terrorist attacks, the 2012 London Olympics ended Aug. 12 after 17 days of sporting drama, excitement and joy. More than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries and regions participated.
Remarkably each team for the first time included both men and women. This is because three Muslim countries — Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia — agreed to send women athletes at the behest of the International Olympic Committee. In the London summer games, women’s boxing events — women’s fly-, middle- and lightweight divisions — were added. As both men and women took part in all 26 sports, the London Olympics demonstrated progress in tearing down the wall between men and women in sports.
For Japan, this year marked the 100th year since it first took part in the Olympic Games in Stockholm. Japanese athletes as a whole presented praiseworthy performances that excited and satisfied fans. They took a record 38 medals — seven gold, 14 silver and 17 bronze, topping the past record of 37 medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Their performances should give encouragement to people back home who are trying to recover from the effects of the 3/11 disasters.
Japan, in its basic sports plan, had set the goal of attaining a No. 5 or better position in the gold medal tally. For the London Olympics, officials of the Japanese team had set a goal of winning 15 or more gold medals. In terms of the number of gold medals, Japan came in at No. 11. But in terms of the number of total medals, it finished as the No. 6 country. (The No. 1 country was the United States with 104 medals, 46 of them gold.)
The increase in the number of medals won by Japan means that Japanese athletes have achieved a higher performance level in a wide area of sports. Japan won medals in 13 types of sports compared with its past record of 10 types. This achievement testifies to the spread of sports in Japan and deserves due praise.
In swimming competition, Japan took 11 medals — the first time it has finished in double figures for medals in the postwar years. Remarkable was the strong showing by Japanese women athletes, including a gold each in women’s free-style wrestling won by Ms. Kaori Icho, Ms. Saori Yoshida and Ms. Hitomi Obara, and silver medals won by the women’s soccer and pingpong teams.
Performances in men’s judo events were disappointing, with no medals won. Japanese judo athletes need to catch up with the changing trends in the judo world.
In women’s badminton doubles, four teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified for trying to lose for strategic purposes. A South Korean male soccer player held a political message related to the Japan-South Korea territorial dispute over islets in the Sea of Japan. These kinds of things run counter to the Olympic spirit and should have never happened.