The kindness Games

Inspiring displays of sportsmanship highlight Tokyo Olympics

When you think of the Tokyo Olympics, you may picture the grace of an athlete achieving a singular dream. But sometimes it’s the moments when athletes set aside the competition that touch us most.  
 
It’s not Simone Biles winning a bronze medal; it’s Simone biles cheering on her teammates when she was unable to perform. It’s not Caeleb Dressel taking home five golds; it’s Caeleb Dressel throwing a medal to a teammate he felt deserved it more.
 
It’s the high jumpers who agreed to share gold. It’s the runners who fell but finished the race together. It’s the hurdler who helped an opponent to her feet. Those are the true moments that make a champion.
 
At these extraordinary Olympic Games, physically distanced by the pandemic and with mental health in the spotlight, acts of kindness are everywhere.

AP Photo/Petr David Josek

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Pool Photo via AP

Michael Kappeler/AP Images

Kyodo via AP Images

The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP Images

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

Olivier Morin/Pool Photo via AP

Frank Hoermann /AP Images

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Oliver Weiken/AP Images

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/John Locher

AP Photo/David Goldman

AP Photo/Petr David Josek

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Pool Photo via AP

02 August 2021, Japan, Tokio: Athletics: Olympics, high jump, men, final, at the Olympic Stadium. Mutaz Essa Barshim (l) from Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi from Italy stand together during the award ceremony. Photo by: Michael Kappeler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Kyodo via AP Images

The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP Images

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

Olivier Morin/Pool Photo via AP

Frank Hoermann /AP Images

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Oliver Weiken/AP Images

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/John Locher

AP Photo/David Goldman, File

In the women’s 100 meter hurdles, Hungary's Luca Kozák tripped and fell to the ground, ending her dream of medaling. But her story didn’t stop there.

Kozák saw that Jamaica's Yanique Thompson had also fallen. When Kozák saw Thompson on the ground, she helped her to her feet.

Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals, but he threw this one to teammate Brooks Curry, who swam in the team’s qualifying heats in Dressel’s place so he could stay energized for other events. “I had the easiest job last night out of everyone here,” Dressel said. “I got to watch it on TV. So I felt like he deserved that a little more than me.”
Curry will get his own gold –anyone who participates in preliminary or finals for a team event qualifies for the medal.

Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim are longtime friends and competitors in the high jump.

At the Tokyo Olympics, both high jumpers completed a jump of 2.37 meters (approximately 7 feet 9 ¼ inches) but failed to clear a higher bar.

Tamberi, 29, and Barshim, 30, shook hands and both won gold.

Italian Marcell Jacobs was a surprise winner in the men’s 100 meter, finishing in 9.8 seconds – beating his own personal best and edging out American Fred Kerley, who gave him a surprised, congratulatory hug.

Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in surfing’s Olympics debut.

But when the Brazilian victor needed help at a press conference, Igarashi jumped in with his knowledge of Portuguese and translated a question for Ferreira.

Simone Biles went from gold medal favorite to Olympic cheerleader after pulling out of most of the competition with a case of the “twisties.” Throughout competition, she could be seen encouraging her teammates from the sidelines, and even gave other members of the team an inspiring pep talk after withdrawing.

Team USA’s Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana became tangled up in the men’s 800 meters and landed on the track side by side.

Instead of reacting with hurt or anger, the two men turned to each other and helped each other up.

The runners finished the race with their arms around each other, Olympic dreams shattered but Olympic spirit intact.

The German women’s field hockey team hoped to top the silver medal it won in Rio in 2016, but instead was routed by Argentina in the quarterfinals, losing 3-0. Argentina goalkeeper Maria Belen Succi comforted Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst after the match.

In the grueling women’s triathalon, Claire Michel of Belgium was the last competitor to finish, 15 minutes after Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won gold. Norway’s Lotte Miller (l) saw the dispirited competitor and gave her a pep talk, calling her a fighter. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100 percent.

In the women’s 100 meter hurdles, Hungary's Luca Kozák tripped and fell to the ground, ending her dream of medaling. But her story didn’t stop there. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

In the women’s 100 meter hurdles, Hungary's Luca Kozák tripped and fell to the ground, ending her dream of medaling. But her story didn’t stop there. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Kozák saw that Jamaica's Yanique Thompson had also fallen. When Kozák saw Thompson on the ground, she helped her to her feet. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Kozák saw that Jamaica's Yanique Thompson had also fallen. When Kozák saw Thompson on the ground, she helped her to her feet. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals, but he threw this one to teammate Brooks Curry, who swam in the team’s qualifying heats in Dressel’s place so he could stay energized for other events. “I had the easiest job last night out of everyone here,” Dressel said. “I got to watch it on TV. So I felt like he deserved that a little more than me.” Curry will get his own gold –anyone who participates in preliminary or finals for a team event qualifies for the medal. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals, but he threw this one to teammate Brooks Curry, who swam in the team’s qualifying heats in Dressel’s place so he could stay energized for other events. “I had the easiest job last night out of everyone here,” Dressel said. “I got to watch it on TV. So I felt like he deserved that a little more than me.” Curry will get his own gold –anyone who participates in preliminary or finals for a team event qualifies for the medal. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim are longtime friends and competitors in the high jump. (Christian Petersen/Pool Photo via AP)

Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim are longtime friends and competitors in the high jump. (Christian Petersen/Pool Photo via AP)

At the Tokyo Olympics, both high jumpers completed a jump of 2.37 meters (approximately 7 feet 9 ¼ inches) but failed to clear a higher bar. Tamberi, 29, and Barshim, 30, shook hands and both won gold. (Michael Kappeler/ AP Images)

At the Tokyo Olympics, both high jumpers completed a jump of 2.37 meters (approximately 7 feet 9 ¼ inches) but failed to clear a higher bar. Tamberi, 29, and Barshim, 30, shook hands and both won gold. (Michael Kappeler/ AP Images)

Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi (L) and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim smile with their gold medals for the men's high jump at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021, at the National Stadium in Tokyo. (Kyodo via AP Images)

Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi (L) and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim smile with their gold medals for the men's high jump at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021, at the National Stadium in Tokyo. (Kyodo via AP Images)

Italian Marcell Jacobs was a surprise winner in the men’s 100 meter, finishing in 9.8 seconds – beating his own personal best and edging out American Fred Kerley, who gave him a surprised, congratulatory hug. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

Italian Marcell Jacobs was a surprise winner in the men’s 100 meter, finishing in 9.8 seconds – beating his own personal best and edging out American Fred Kerley, who gave him a surprised, congratulatory hug. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in surfing’s Olympics debut. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in surfing’s Olympics debut. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

But when the Brazilian victor needed help at a press conference, Igarashi jumped in with his knowledge of Portuguese and translated a question for Ferreira. (Olivier Morin/Pool Photo via AP)

But when the Brazilian victor needed help at a press conference, Igarashi jumped in with his knowledge of Portuguese and translated a question for Ferreira. (Olivier Morin/Pool Photo via AP)

Simone Biles went from gold medal favorite to Olympic cheerleader after pulling out of most of the competition with a case of the “twisties.” Throughout competition, she could be seen encouraging her teammates from the sidelines, and even gave other members of the team an inspiring pep talk after withdrawing. (Frank Hoermann /AP Images)

Simone Biles went from gold medal favorite to Olympic cheerleader after pulling out of most of the competition with a case of the “twisties.” Throughout competition, she could be seen encouraging her teammates from the sidelines, and even gave other members of the team an inspiring pep talk after withdrawing. (Frank Hoermann /AP Images)

Team USA’s Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana became tangled up in the men’s 800 meters and landed on the track side by side. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Team USA’s Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana became tangled up in the men’s 800 meters and landed on the track side by side. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Instead of reacting with hurt or anger, the two men turned to each other and helped each other up. (Oliver Weiken/AP Images)

Instead of reacting with hurt or anger, the two men turned to each other and helped each other up. (Oliver Weiken/AP Images)

The runners finished the race with their arms around each other, Olympic dreams shattered but Olympic spirit intact. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The runners finished the race with their arms around each other, Olympic dreams shattered but Olympic spirit intact. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The German women’s field hockey team hoped to top the silver medal it won in Rio in 2016, but instead was routed by Argentina in the quarterfinals, losing 3-0. Argentina goalkeeper Maria Belen Succi comforted Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst after the match. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The German women’s field hockey team hoped to top the silver medal it won in Rio in 2016, but instead was routed by Argentina in the quarterfinals, losing 3-0. Argentina goalkeeper Maria Belen Succi comforted Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst after the match. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In the grueling women’s triathalon, Claire Michel of Belgium was the last competitor to finish, 15 minutes after Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won gold. Norway’s Lotte Miller (l) saw the dispirited competitor and gave her a pep talk, calling her a fighter. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100 percent." (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In the grueling women’s triathalon, Claire Michel of Belgium was the last competitor to finish, 15 minutes after Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won gold. Norway’s Lotte Miller (l) saw the dispirited competitor and gave her a pep talk, calling her a fighter. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100 percent." (AP Photo/David Goldman)

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In the women’s 100 meter hurdles, Hungary's Luca Kozák tripped and fell to the ground, ending her dream of medaling. But her story didn’t stop there. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

In the women’s 100 meter hurdles, Hungary's Luca Kozák tripped and fell to the ground, ending her dream of medaling. But her story didn’t stop there. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Kozák saw that Jamaica's Yanique Thompson had also fallen. When Kozák saw Thompson on the ground, she helped her to her feet. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Kozák saw that Jamaica's Yanique Thompson had also fallen. When Kozák saw Thompson on the ground, she helped her to her feet. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals, but he threw this one to teammate Brooks Curry, who swam in the team’s qualifying heats in Dressel’s place so he could stay energized for other events. “I had the easiest job last night out of everyone here,” Dressel said. “I got to watch it on TV. So I felt like he deserved that a little more than me.” Curry will get his own gold –anyone who participates in preliminary or finals for a team event qualifies for the medal. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Caeleb Dressel won five gold medals, but he threw this one to teammate Brooks Curry, who swam in the team’s qualifying heats in Dressel’s place so he could stay energized for other events. “I had the easiest job last night out of everyone here,” Dressel said. “I got to watch it on TV. So I felt like he deserved that a little more than me.” Curry will get his own gold –anyone who participates in preliminary or finals for a team event qualifies for the medal. (Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim are longtime friends and competitors in the high jump. (Christian Petersen/Pool Photo via AP)

Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim are longtime friends and competitors in the high jump. (Christian Petersen/Pool Photo via AP)

At the Tokyo Olympics, both high jumpers completed a jump of 2.37 meters (approximately 7 feet 9 ¼ inches) but failed to clear a higher bar. Tamberi, 29, and Barshim, 30, shook hands and both won gold. (Michael Kappeler/ AP Images)

At the Tokyo Olympics, both high jumpers completed a jump of 2.37 meters (approximately 7 feet 9 ¼ inches) but failed to clear a higher bar. Tamberi, 29, and Barshim, 30, shook hands and both won gold. (Michael Kappeler/ AP Images)

Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi (L) and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim smile with their gold medals for the men's high jump at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021, at the National Stadium in Tokyo. (Kyodo via AP Images)

Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi (L) and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim smile with their gold medals for the men's high jump at the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021, at the National Stadium in Tokyo. (Kyodo via AP Images)

Italian Marcell Jacobs was a surprise winner in the men’s 100 meter, finishing in 9.8 seconds – beating his own personal best and edging out American Fred Kerley, who gave him a surprised, congratulatory hug. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

Italian Marcell Jacobs was a surprise winner in the men’s 100 meter, finishing in 9.8 seconds – beating his own personal best and edging out American Fred Kerley, who gave him a surprised, congratulatory hug. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in surfing’s Olympics debut. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Kanoa Igarashi of Japan was disappointed when he lost to Brazilian Italo Ferreira in surfing’s Olympics debut. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

But when the Brazilian victor needed help at a press conference, Igarashi jumped in with his knowledge of Portuguese and translated a question for Ferreira. (Olivier Morin/Pool Photo via AP)

But when the Brazilian victor needed help at a press conference, Igarashi jumped in with his knowledge of Portuguese and translated a question for Ferreira. (Olivier Morin/Pool Photo via AP)

Simone Biles went from gold medal favorite to Olympic cheerleader after pulling out of most of the competition with a case of the “twisties.” Throughout competition, she could be seen encouraging her teammates from the sidelines, and even gave other members of the team an inspiring pep talk after withdrawing. (Frank Hoermann /AP Images)

Simone Biles went from gold medal favorite to Olympic cheerleader after pulling out of most of the competition with a case of the “twisties.” Throughout competition, she could be seen encouraging her teammates from the sidelines, and even gave other members of the team an inspiring pep talk after withdrawing. (Frank Hoermann /AP Images)

Team USA’s Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana became tangled up in the men’s 800 meters and landed on the track side by side. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Team USA’s Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana became tangled up in the men’s 800 meters and landed on the track side by side. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Instead of reacting with hurt or anger, the two men turned to each other and helped each other up. (Oliver Weiken/AP Images)

Instead of reacting with hurt or anger, the two men turned to each other and helped each other up. (Oliver Weiken/AP Images)

The runners finished the race with their arms around each other, Olympic dreams shattered but Olympic spirit intact. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The runners finished the race with their arms around each other, Olympic dreams shattered but Olympic spirit intact. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The German women’s field hockey team hoped to top the silver medal it won in Rio in 2016, but instead was routed by Argentina in the quarterfinals, losing 3-0. Argentina goalkeeper Maria Belen Succi comforted Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst after the match. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The German women’s field hockey team hoped to top the silver medal it won in Rio in 2016, but instead was routed by Argentina in the quarterfinals, losing 3-0. Argentina goalkeeper Maria Belen Succi comforted Germany’s Charlotte Stapenhorst after the match. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In the grueling women’s triathalon, Claire Michel of Belgium was the last competitor to finish, 15 minutes after Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won gold. Norway’s Lotte Miller (l) saw the dispirited competitor and gave her a pep talk, calling her a fighter. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100 percent." (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In the grueling women’s triathalon, Claire Michel of Belgium was the last competitor to finish, 15 minutes after Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won gold. Norway’s Lotte Miller (l) saw the dispirited competitor and gave her a pep talk, calling her a fighter. “This is Olympic spirit, and you’ve got it 100 percent." (AP Photo/David Goldman)