Mixed Emotions About the 2020 Olympics

At last, the 2020 Olympics are here!

The motto of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is “United by Emotion.” I’m not an athlete, but I do enjoy watching the Olympic Games. But in these pandemic times, I have mixed emotions about them. Most of the time, I feel fine and simply look forward to watching people from around the world showcase their superhuman strength and athletic prowess!

But sometimes I fear for the safety of the athletes and wonder why they didn’t cancel the Games. Other times, I’m disgusted when I’m reminded about the doping violations, sexual abuse allegations, and other scandals and wonder if I’m supporting all of it just by tuning in to watch. My emotions about the Olympics are a mixed bunch of awe, fear, excitement, and happiness.

Emotion: Awe

The first Olympic Games I watched on TV were the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. I was in awe of Team USA’s athletes, like gymnasts, Mary Lou Retton and Mitch Gaylord; track and field athlete, Jackie Joyner, and diver, Greg Louganis!

Years later, in May 1996, I got to see the Olympics torch relay come through Davis, California en route to Atlanta, Georgia, the host city of the 1996 Olympics! I recall the torchbearer jogging by so quickly that I barely got a glimpse of the flame. Nevertheless, it was awesome to witness and share the excitement with the crowd.

Many years after that, in 2011, I was awestruck once again when I got to meet a former Olympian! My family and I went to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco where 1992 Olympic figure skating champion, Kristi Yamaguchi greeted fans and signed copies of her children’s book, “Dream Big, Little Pig!” It’s about a persistent little pig named Poppy who dreams of becoming “a spectacular ice-skating star.”⛸

Emotion: Fear

We’re in the midst of a pandemic. Won’t the Olympics be a super-spreader event? They should have cancelled the Games this year.

Japan declared a state of emergency recently due to the surge in COVID-related infections. In response, organizers said that they wouldn’t allow any spectators, but later changed to say that they would limit spectators to only people in Japan. But, as of this writing, only 20% of people in Japan are fully vaccinated!

Due to world wars, the Olympics weren’t celebrated in 1916, 1940, and 1944. While the pandemic is not a war, it is a global crisis. So why not cancel the 2020 Games, too?

Emotion: Excitement

The Olympic events that I enjoy watching are gymnastics, swimming, and track & field. But I’d have to say that my absolute favorite Olympic event is not even athletic. I’m talking about the Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremonies! (In my Pacific Time Zone, I’ll have to tune in at 4 o’clock in the morning on Friday, July 23, 2021 to watch it live!)

What’s not to love about the Parade of Nations? I love the flags! I love watching the artistic program that showcases the host country’s cultural identity and history! I love hearing them announce the countries’ names in three languages: French, English, and the host country’s language.

Why French? French historian and educator, Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee in 1894, organized the first games of the modern era in 1896, and made French and English the official languages of the Olympics.

Emotion: Happiness

I look forward to the 2024 Olympics in Paris and the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles – two of my favorite places! 🇫🇷🇺🇸


“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

The Olympic Creed

What are your thoughts about the Olympics? Which Olympic events do you enjoy watching? Tell me in the comments below!

Book Review: “Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop”

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop 

  • Author: Roselle Lim
  • Publisher: Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House (New York)
  • Publication Date: August 4, 2020
  • Genre: Multicultural Interest; Fiction, 320 pages

Synopsis

Vanessa Yu is a 27-year-old accountant from Palo Alto, California who possesses the gift of seeing people’s fortunes by reading tea leaves. After seeing someone’s misfortune at the bottom of a cup, Vanessa decides that she no longer wants this supernatural ability. Her enigmatic Aunt Evelyn, who also has the rare gift of clairvoyance, offers to help Vanessa get rid of her special skill. Aunt Evelyn invites Vanessa to stay with her for three weeks in Paris, where she is in the process of opening a tea shop. 

My Thoughts

Unlike similar novels set in the City of Light, Vanessa does not have an overly romanticized notion of Paris — I found her perspective refreshing! As a Francophile, I certainly appreciate that this novel was set in Paris, but the story could have taken place anywhere in the world.

In a way, the novel does take you around the world — through food! The book is filled with flavorful descriptions of various cuisines, including Chinese (char siu bao, or steamed BBQ buns), Filipino (sinigang, or tamarind-based stew), Vietnamese (gỏi cuốn, or spring rolls), and Italian (cacio e pepe, or cheese and pepper pasta). In Paris, Vanessa enjoys an assortment of iconic French treats, including buttery croissants, crispy tuiles aux amandes, and decadent mille-feuille.

So very sweet – much like how Vanessa is with her large family. They say “I love you” to each other so much though that it sometimes borders on saccharine. It was mind-boggling at times because Vanessa often seemed annoyed by her family, especially her meddling aunties.

But Aunt Evelyn is the exception. It’s clear that Vanessa has great respect for her. As the story progresses, Aunt Evelyn opens her heart, making her more likable.

I also liked how vivid descriptions of symbols, like red threads of fate, sudden gusts of wind, and Menelaus blue morpho butterflies give the novel a dream-like quality. Although the tropical blue butterfly specified is not likely to appear in Europe, you’ll believe it’s possible. That’s magical realism for you!

Overall, this breezy novel is a welcome escape from the pandemic lockdown doldrums. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys art, romance, cultural traditions, food, tea, and Paris, bien sûr!

About the author

Roselle Lim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada as a child. She found her love of writing by listening to her paternal Lola’s (grandmother) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels. She has a degree in humanities and history from York University in Toronto. 

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram. Visit her website or Amazon (this is not an affiliate link) to order the book.

Thank you to Berkley/Penguin Random House for inviting me to read Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim. I received a digital review copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.