Well, another Summer Olympics is upon us...this time in Rio de Janeiro, and boy, am I really hoping that these Games do well, despite all of the even-higher-than-usual hullabaloo that comes before the quadrennial event.
I hearken back to the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. At the time I was working behind the reception desk on my usual Tuesday night shift at the International Student Centre at the University of Toronto. Now, the Centre closes at 10pm and I start making my rounds to clean things up in each room and oust any stragglers who are still in the house. However, one particular night was very different. On that Tuesday, Ben Johnson of Canada was about to run the race of his life, the 100m. There were folks knocking on the door (that I had already locked) to see if they could come in and watch the race on the ancient TV that was part of the centre's equipment. And being in the spirit of the Olympics, I didn't hesitate. I let them all in past 10 and they all surrounded the desk and waited.
Not sure when the race began but I think it was getting closer to 10:30. In any case, for all of us, when the starter's pistol finally went off, we were in for the most exciting 10 seconds in our lives as Ben flew down the track and got us that Gold in the world-smashing record of 9.79 seconds. What a moment....which lasted all of several hours before we got the soul-smashing announcement that Johnson had been caught doping with stanozolol. Man...well, at least, we've had some other happy medal outcomes in future Olympics since then.
In my own personal world, when it comes to an Olympics, another custom has been for the Japanese broadcaster NHK to cover the Games and have a famous J-Pop singer introduce the theme tune. I've already covered a few of them such as Maki Ohguro's（大黒摩季）ballistic "Atsukunare"（熱くなれ）for the 1996 Atlanta Games and Misia's moving "Hatenaku Tsuzuku Story"（果てなく続くストーリー）for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
However, J-Wiki has an article on all of NHK's Olympic theme songs and it was there that I discovered the first NHK Olympic theme song of a J-Pop nature was back in those 1988 Games in Seoul, Mari Hamada's（浜田麻里）"Heart and Soul". It was her 8th single from September of that year and it was also a track that was included on her BEST album with the same title from November 1988. It's certainly got the right title and it has that dynamically upbeat melody by Hiroyuki Otsuki（大槻啓之）with lyrics by Hamada herself.
On first listen, it hasn't superseded "Atsukunare" or "Hatenaku Tsuzuku Story", but hey it delivers a positive response for all those athletes to do well. The single broke through the Top 10 to reach No. 7 while the album reached No. 4.
Anyways, the Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow and I will be watching. Of course, I will be rooting for both Japan and Canada.
by Captain Roger Fenton