Whether or not they win the elusive gold, silver, and bronze medals, the participating athletes at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 continue the tradition of getting tattoos commemorating their time at the games.
Not gonna lie, we immediately assumed that the cling film wrapped on both arms of Olympic gold medalist, Tom Daley, in the many images of him watching the games from the stands while knitting was an indication that he had gotten himself a tattoo following his well-deserved win at the Tokyo Olympics. (Before we digress, the plastic on his triceps were actually ice packs meant to give relief to obviously battered and worn out muscles from the games.) You see, qualifying for the sporting event and placing a podium finish is a dream of many athletes. So, it is natural for them to want to commemorate their experience whether or not they reach their ultimate goal of having a medal hang around their neck. For posterity, these elite competitors make a beeline to the tattoo parlor where the buzzing of needles become the Olympic rings made permanent on their skin.
Whether you like it or not, tattoos are never to be forgotten. So, these inked bookmarks on the athletes representing the colors of their country are a lifelong reminder of all their blood, sweat, and tears. That ink on the nape, the years etched on the crevices of the ribs, and the host nation stamped forever on the forearm? That’s a badge of honor for them to carry on for the rest of their lives.
A Badge Of Honor
Just like the unmatched popularity of tattoos as a form of self-expression over the course of the past few years, the past few Olympics have seen a surge in visibility as well. Not much is known about who started what has without a doubt become a tradition, although some credit Canadian swimmer Victor Davis who competed in the Los Angeles games in 1984. Commemorating his time in the Olympics, as well as of setting a world record for the 200-meter breaststroke, he had a maple leaf tattoo drawn on his chest, and four years later, bemedalled swimmer Chris Jacobs from the USA followed suit after with what has now become a favorite for many athletes, the Olympic rings.
On full display at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, there was an assortment of vibrant and interesting tattoos decorating everything from wrists, arms, and calves among many other personal placements from returning elite athletes. Considering this was culturally ironic, since in a generally conservative Japan, tattoos are generally still frowned upon, it was such a treat to see these marks of champions inform us a little bit more about them from a distance. And yes, it functions as them wearing their pride on their sleeves. After all, making it to the Olympics is no small feat.
The next best thing to clinching the elusive gold, silver, and bronze at the Olympics, these tattoos are the modern day mark of a champion for the Olympians in this sporting spectacle. Beyoncé was right, they liked it, so they put a ring on it.