Has anybody told you that they didn’t “get” a part of your story although everything was perfectly clear to you? That’s because not everybody knows your world entirely. We need to be conscious about what people know and what they don’t.

After being postponed for one year, the Olympics finally happened. There were countless challenges and troubles besides the pandemic even before the event. Then, as the Olympians started landing in Japan, I started hearing questions and complaints.


When I saw video of an Irish gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan, jumping up and down on his bed at the Olympic Village, I wondered why. Soon, I learned that there was a rumor about cardboard bed frames being used in the Village for “anti-intimacy” purposes (in order to prevent athletes from spreading the virus) and he was testing the bed to prove the rumor wrong.

A little after that, I heard another complaint — the A/C remote controls were only in Japanese and the athletes didn’t know how to operate them. (I assume there were instructions somewhere, but that’s another story.)

I could understand where those claims and questions came from. If I were an Olympian, I might’ve complained, too. I’m sure they were expecting to receive impeccable service and goods from Japan. But here is the truth. Japan is still recovering from the nuclear disaster of March 2011, even after 10 years, and they’ve been making an effort to improve sustainability. When Tokyo was picked as the venue, they set a goal to make 99% of goods for the Olympics recyclable or sustainable, so the cardboard bed frames plan started way before the pandemic. The looks might be deceiving, but each athlete received a mattress individually customized for his or her own competition, height, weight, and muscle build, which was a first in Olympics history. On top of that, all the bedding was recyclable. The A/Cs will be donated to schools in disaster areas soon – that’s why they needed to keep the remote controls in Japanese. Even the medals were made of used phones and computers.

Probably those who live in Japan knew behind-the-scenes stories and understood their reasons for each decision, but most of us don’t.

Nobody knows your world unless you let others know about it.

I think Japan missed an opportunity to tell their stories. Had they done so, people might’ve been more understanding and appreciative. Okay, okay, I hear you. Japan has had a lot (I mean, A LOT!) on its plate. What they accomplished was beyond remarkable. Now, I will stop nitpicking and applaud the athletes, volunteers, and organizers – because, you know, I don’t really know their world, after all.

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