Splainer

Monday, July 26 2021


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People have lost virtually everything.

That’s Goa’s health minister, Vishwajit Rane, responding to the devastation in his state caused by torrential rains—which are considered to be the worst in decades. But the situation is far more grim in neighbouring Maharashtra, where 138 have died, and the desperate search for survivors still continues. People are taking refuge on their roofs, waiting to be rescued. ICYMI, we did a big story on extreme weather which has become the new normal around the world.

Big Story

Tokyo Olympics kick off with a bang

The TLDR: The ‘Olympics that almost never was’ held its opening ceremony on Friday evening, and the weekend was a rollercoaster for Indians—one big delight and several disappointments. Here’s a quick roundup of what you missed while Netflix-ing instead.

 

About that opening ceremony…

Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron—and became the first tennis player to do so.

 

The 205 participating countries marched in the ‘Parade of the Nations’—and “were actively encouraged to select both a male and female representative to carry their flag.” And here were the notable highlights:

 

One: The contingents included the Refugee Olympic Team—with 29 athletes from 11 countries, living in 13 host countries. The aim is to send a message of hope to those who have been rendered stateless by conflict. FYI: Iranian refugee and taekwondo star Kimia Alizadeh would later narrowly miss out on winning the Refugee Olympic Team’s first ever medal. But there’s still time and hope.

 

Two: The Syrian flag-bearer was also the youngest athlete at the Olympics: 12-year-old table tennis player Hend Zaza.

 

Three: Russia has been banned from using their country’s name, flag and national anthem due to an investigation that uncovered a government-backed doping program. So the country's athletes marched into the stadium this year with the Olympic flag and under the name ROC, an acronym for Russian Olympic Committee. FYI: The Russians have been doing their best to sneak in references to Russia—be it in the form of bears on their swimwear, or playing a Soviet folk-based song instead of their anthem. But they will have to make do with a snippet of Tchaikovsky instead.

 

Four: Everyone was horrified by Italy’s Armani-designed outfits: “It looks like the Italian flag ate Pac-Man and then got violently ill all over a white shirt. Even the shoes were covered with the Italian flag.” See them below. Bonus: a handy slideshow of the ten worst opening ceremony outfits.

 

Five: But everyone loved Tonga’s flag bearer Pita Taufatofua’s glistening ‘less is more’ look lol!

 

Awesome stuff on the sidelines: A group of fabulously talented Japanese artists have come together for the World Flags project—which transforms each participating country’s flag into an anime samurai character. This is the one for India. Check the other awesome creations here. BBC News has more on the project.

 

A rollercoaster ride for India

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • A scary landslide in Himachal
  • China ‘bans’ Indian sailors
  • Big censorship move on movie ‘Aadhaar’
  • The universe may be shaped like a giant donut

 

Smart & Curious

  • The underappreciated aesthetic of ‘The Simpsons’
  • Looking to expand your Spotify playlist?
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