No Sights, No Sounds. No Cheers, No Flags. No Worries At The Olympic 10K Marathon Swim

No Sights, No Sounds. No Cheers, No Flags. No Worries At The Olympic 10K Marathon Swim

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When Olympic gold medalists from swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt, to gymnast Simone Biles, and beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh have relished and triumphed in front of cheering crowds at the Summer Olympic Games. When the pressure was greatest and the venues packed with fans in front of a worldwide television and livecast audience, these athletes – and many others – realized their potential and won gold.

But now with the expectation of empty stands and no fans, the prospect of standing on the Olympic podium to wear Olympic medals while listening to their national anthem seems different.

While some sports psychologists predict a lack of patriotic spectators yelling and cheering as loudly as possible may have an impact on the athletes’ performances, I think not,” says Steven Munatones. “When we look at the overall performances of athletes over the last six months across the board in nearly every sport, the performances have been more than outstanding. World records and near world records are being set in everything from running events to swimming races – and I think the records will continue to be set even with venues and stadiums empty. The pandemic and the lockdown – however, unevenly applied across society – is a motivator for these athletes. They now greatly appreciate the opportunity to train and compete, fans or no fans in the stands. Their drive is internal. Their passion does not need cheers to continue. They will compete and push themselves further and faster than ever before.

But there is one sport for sure in which roaring crowds and loud cheers have never really been part of the fabric of the sport. Marathon swimming has always been conducted away from the cheers. Marathon swimmers usually cannot hear or see the fans that stand along the shores or finish line of their competitions. Their sport is among the least sensory-specific race out there: very little vision, no sounds to motivate – other than an occasional whistle from the referees.

So if there is any sport where the lack of fans in the stands will have no impact, it is the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.

Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay will not have spectators, but the athletes cannot hear or see them anyway – and they will be going all-out out of range of sights and sounds.”

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Steven Munatones