The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are often teeming with symbolism, but a special moment in this year’s Summer Games in Tokyo has distilled the perseverance of the athletes and the many dreams put off due to the pandemic. Arisa Tsubata, a 27-year-old Japanese nurse and aspiring boxer, played a central role in kicking off the ceremony on July 23. The moment was made even more powerful by the revelation that she spent the last year training for Olympic boxing. qualification that had to be canceled.
In addition to working on the front lines of the pandemic, Tsubata has spent the last year training hard in hopes of making it to the Olympics. A few months before they took place, however, the International Olympic Committee canceled boxing qualifications and instead decided to offer team places to athletes already ranked at the world level. This meant that Tsubata, who had started boxing just three years ago, had lost his shot.
“It’s very disappointing,” Tsubata said. Reuters in May. “I had worked so hard for a year after the Olympics were postponed, and it’s so frustrating that I am not even allowed to compete.”
Fortunately, Tsubata was always able to be a part of the sporting event and she helped open the ceremony by running on a treadmill for several minutes as various performers and impressive light shows circled around her. In addition, there is always a chance to see her again in 2024. “I cannot say that I am aiming for the next Olympics in Paris,” she said. Reuters, “But what I can do is try to keep working hard, step by step, in all the upcoming competitions, big or small.”