Consolation & the Olympic Games

Australian Jesuit Provincial Fr Quyen Vu SJ reflects on the challenges we have faced in lockdown and how we can be inspired by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


It is not easy to go into lockdown again for those from Victoria because Melburnians endured 112 successive days in lockdown in 2020. The latest lockdown and restrictions meant that people had to stay indoors, and work, study and socialise from their homes. The aim of the lockdown is to deter the spread of infections. However, it does restrict our movement and forces us into the confinement of our homes. We can sympathise with those in Sydney as their lockdowns continue until at least the end of August. The pandemic does not spare anyone, and the delta variant loves to spread as far and wide and as quickly as it is allowed to do so.

During the lockdown and health restrictions still enforced in Victoria, I have had time to slow down and to work from home instead of travelling interstate or attending engagements and appointments. I have on occasion turned to the television to tune in to the Tokyo Olympic Games. Seeing the athletes competing in the various competitions, I am amazed by their spirit and determination. They have invested their whole life, with hours and hours of training, cultivating their bodies and mental toughness just to be able to represent their country at the Olympic Games. It is wonderful to see our Olympians winning Bronze, Silver and Gold in their respective competitions. The joys and happiness shine through when they cross the finishing line or touch the end of the pool. There have been tears, too, as some athletes missed their chance of a lifetime in getting to the final or just missing a medal by a millisecond.

What captured my attention was seeing Patrick Tiernan’s performance in the 10,000m. Tiernan fell over three times in the final lap of the 10,000m final before crossing the line. He did not give up after falling not once but three times. His resilience and determination were uplifting to watch. It was amazing. Tiernan refused to stay down despite knowing he would not win a medal. At times, it is not about coming first or getting a medal. It is about completing the race, about getting to the finish line, and reaching one’s own goals and testing one’s personal limits. Seeing Tierman finishing, I experienced as much consolation and satisfaction as watching Emma McKeon touch the wall for Gold in the swimming pool.

Despite the lockdowns, the Olympic Games do bring consolations to those stuck indoors and those not able to get out of the house. Consolations can be found in creation, in nature, through our families and friends and from the Olympic Games. Most of the time consolations can be found in the ordinariness of life. We do not need to look far. Just open your eyes and hearts and be ready to receive them each day.  

Fr Quyen Vu SJ