From the announcement of the postponement in March last year till the last athlete leaves quarantine, this has been one of the most challenging and rewarding periods of my career. The Tokyo Games and the performance of the Australian Team are to be celebrated for years to come.
The Games Organising Committee, the Japanese Government and Japanese people along with the IOC, through their resilience, passion and careful planning reconnected the world through the Olympic Games. Many said the Games wouldn’t happen. Well they did it, and the world watched in celebration.
For the AOC, from the postponement, the focus was to facilitate athletes qualification which involved international travel, ensure a safe pre-Games assembly of the team and provide a Tokyo Village that was performance based and safe, while remaining welcoming. A new initiative of incorporating many Aboriginal and Torres Strait island aspects in the uniform and Village was another unifying factor.
So a safe and unified team, the largest to leave Australia with 486 athletes, has delivered equal best ever 17 gold medals, 46 medals in total. More than the medals, the athletes have by example set a standard of sportsmanship and attitude, displaying all that is good about sport. The new sports including skateboarding, BMX freestyle and surfing have refreshed the Games, inspiring a whole new group of kids to aim to be an Olympian.
On the eve of the Games there was the great announcement that Brisbane was elected to host the 2032 Games. The gift of a generation. Through the power of sport, the Games will drive a ten-year runway of opportunity for the next generation of Australians. There is already a green and gold runway of over 30 international sporting events scheduled between 2022 and the Games in July 2032.
For the students of ACPE this opportunity is a once in many generations. Be just like the Olympians who overcame the challenges of the pandemic, excelled on the world stage and did so with passion and grace, grasp this opportunity and go for it.
Matt Carroll AM
Australia Olympic Committee