I was sent a reminder today. It was a simple photograph from a friend’s back garden, of a young tree beginning to blossom. With it came a short message of gratitude and a little bit of childlike joy, seeing the buds just emerging.
The reminder: a young ornamental cherry tree in a West London garden. Photo credit: Louise Murray

The tree was an ornamental cherry donated to one of my own judo club families, to mark the passing of their grandad. It was planted in their back garden in Acton, West London, on World Judo Day 2019. Thousands of trees were planted all over the world, celebrating the birthday of Judo’s founder Jigoro Kano, with the theme ‘Plant a Tree.’

Mr Marius L. Vizer planted a tree in Abu Dhabi and a lot was spoken at the time about tolerance and friendship. Never have these ideals been more relevant.

Photo credit: Llyr Jones

The reminder brought me thoughts of Sakura festivals in Japan and Korea, with the traditional viewing of the cherry and plum blossoms, picnics in the Sun and time spent with family and friends. We can’t do that at the moment, but the trees are no less glorious. They still symbolise the cycle of life and in a small way, maybe even our Olympic cycles. This one is now longer than expected but it will still be beautiful. We will watch champions find their crowns, we will see the most profound disappointments and the most indescribable relief.

Sakura in Jinan, Korea, 2019

Our athletes are continuing with a very special commitment and discipline, ensuring their return to competition, to their planet full of friends, sees no lag and no dip, just excellence. There is mutual respect to be seen in every Instagram post. There are online challenges, an absolute adherence to our mutual welfare and an understanding that despite our vulnerabilities our will to climb is insatiable.

This is a unique time and humanity has never been so unified towards a single cause. This is the spirit of the Olympic movement in spades.

Every time you see blossom this spring, smile, they are for you!

Photo credit: Nicholas Messner
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