The Canadian Olympic Committee’s new brand campaign contains a lot of images that would be expected of such a thing. Volleyball players setting and spiking the ball, a diver leaping off a platform, a decathlete hurling a javelin.
But the “Glory From Anywhere” spots also have some unexpected beats: a firefighter, a teacher, a boxing coach.
The idea was to emphasize that glory doesn’t just come from the competitive arena, and that Olympic ideals can be seen in regular folks who do laudable things.
It seems like it’s a message designed for these unique times, when a global pandemic has seen all kinds of regular Canadians do selfless and impressive things for the greater good, but in fact the sentiment was conceived long ago, before COVID-19 ever arrived and eventually pushed the Tokyo Olympics back by a year.
The message of “determination and resilience,” of “celebrating what it means to be Olympic,” resonated even before the pandemic, says Jacquie Ryan, chief brand and commercial officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “Of course, it’s a message that has now taken on new meaning.”
These will be an Olympics that require resilience like no other.
About half of the Canadian team had already qualified for Tokyo 2020 when the Games were postponed last spring.
Those athletes have since spent a year trying to ensure that they will peak at the right time this summer, having previously been building toward doing so last year. There have also been lockdowns and quarantines that have disrupted training and performance schedules.
Many more athletes are still trying to book their tickets to Tokyo, squeezing in qualifying events yet to be held, even with the Opening Ceremony about six weeks away.
But new Olympians are being added every week, and Canada expects to have a full contingent by the time the Games open officially on July 23.
Ryan notes that the Games will be a sign of what the determination of those competing on the various fields of play, but also what has been done by the everyday people who have made sacrifices over the past 16 months. “Hopefully it will be a celebration of not just what athletes have achieved, but really what all Canadians have achieved.”
Plans for the Olympics remain under considerable scrutiny, with Japan’s slow COVID vaccination rollout having covered less than 15 per cent of the population in that country with one dose so far.