It seems much longer than a week ago that we were are all enjoying the battle between the US and China to see who would come top of the Tokyo 2020 medal table. The cold light of quarantine can have that effect but as we all sober up from our collective Olympic high, there is undoubtedly a question mark over how these Games will be remembered. Will it be the sport? Or the fact that the sport even took place? Covid-19 cast a long shadow over these Olympics, delaying them by 12 months so that Tokyo 2020 took place in 2021. Despite everything, the sport went off without a hitch. #UnitedByEmotion at the #Tokyo2020 #ClosingCeremony pic.twitter.com/xx2yQ1qEaX — #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) August 8, 2021 While the first beach volleyball match of the Olympics between the Czech Republic and Japan was cancelled because of a positive Covid test, there was more disruption to the events because of the weather, be that typhoons or temperatures more suited to Hades. Empty stands and medals collected in masks were a constant reminder of Covid. The sport delivered on the newly updated Olympic motto – “Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together” – literally so in the case of the men’s high jump final where Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim shared gold. Tokyo infection numbers threaten Paralympics as Suga watches approval slump “Together” also encapsulated the inclusivity of an Olympics that saw 94 nations walk away with a medal – a record and up on the 87 of Beijing 2008 – and an age range of 50 years between the oldest and youngest medal winners. Japan’s Kokona Hiraki won skateboarding silver aged 12 to become the youngest Olympic medallist in 85 years, while Australian equestrian rider Andrew Hoy won a silver and bronze at 62 – the oldest medallist since 1968. This was the first Games for skateboarding (and surfing, speedclimbing and 3-on-3 basketball) and it might be the last for equestrian if PETA has its way . Animal rights were just one of the bigger conversations at these Olympics with athletes leading the way. Britain’s Tom Daley, who finally got his gold medal 13 years on from his debut in Beijing as a 14-year-old, spoke up for the LGBTQ+ community. “I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” he said as he collected his gold, going on to point out that “there are more openly out athletes at these Olympic Games than any Olympic Games previously”. Hong Kong’s greatest Games ever brings joy unmatched to city and its athletes Daley included there were at least 183 openly gay athletes in Tokyo and if they competed under the Rainbow flag they would have finished seventh on the medal table. Canada’s Quinn became the first openly transgender non-binary athlete to win Olympic gold when they beat Sweden in the women’s football final, while New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard made history as the first transgender Olympic weightlifter. These were said to be the gender neutral Games, and they were the first for mixed gender relay events, while the US saw its women win nearly 60 per cent of its total medals. One of them, track legend Allyson Felix put motherhood on the map with another gold, her first since giving birth in 2018. The 35-year-old ditched Nike in the run-up to Tokyo as they refused to support her to the same level as they had before she became a mother. Another, gymnast Simone Biles, led the conversation on mental health after pulling out of the women’s team event. She then put it behind her to return and win a bronze. Many other athletes followed her lead in speaking up. But for all of the big conversations sparked by the athletes it might be the silences that we remember most. Tokyo Olympics athletes protest in creative ways to sidestep Rule 50 The IOC was silent on questions about the hosts of the upcoming Winter Olympics next February. Beijing 2022 is being compared by some to the Berlin Games of 1936 over China’s human rights record, particularly relating to the Uygur Muslim population in the far western Xinjiang region, but the IOC remain tight-lipped. There was silence too on the anti-Olympics protests that drowned out much of the opening ceremony but most worrying of all was the silence on the first Lambda variant case in Japan, which was kept quiet until after the Olympics finished. Financially, Tokyo 2020 is the most expensive Olympics on record, but the fear is that it will be much costlier as Covid-19 numbers in the Japanese capital were at record numbers throughout and are still spiralling out of control. In many ways these Olympics were the ultimate triumph over adversity but it seems that adversity might be staging a post-Games comeback. We can only hope that pre-Games fears of a superspreader event or even a new variant remain just that or we will remember Tokyo 2020’s Covid-19 Olympics of 2021 for all the wrong reasons. Time will tell. In the meantime, history is written by the victors and right now these Games were winners against all odds.