The Tokyo Olympics 2020 came to an end with its closing ceremony on August 8 after days of sporting spectacle for enthusiasts across the world. While the presence of the fans in the stadium could have made the event more exciting, the display of talent by athletes overshadowed everything else. The games had to be deferred last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and even during difficult pandemic situations, the organizing committee managed to pull the biggest sporting event.
The summer games not only inspired people on earth but even astronauts stationed at International Space Station (ISS) got into a sporting feel. The astronauts formed different teams based on the spacecraft they took to ISS and played the first-ever space games. The games featured interesting events like no-handball, synchronized floating among others.
The team Dragon featured NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. These astronauts came to ISS on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Team Soyuz had astronaut Mark Vande Hei, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Soyuz had come to the ISS in April 2021 to deliver the seven-member crew for a six-month science mission in microgravity.
The first event in this space games was no handball where the players had to get the ping pong ball through the hatch seals without touching it with any of their body parts. The players had to use their breath to navigate the ball. The second event in these games was ‘synchronized floating’ followed by gymnastics.
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Members from countries like Russia, Canada, Japan, and the participating countries of ESA have been living and working at the ISS for over 20 years now. People from over 19 countries have so far visited the unique microgravity laboratory, which has hosted over 3000 research investigations from scientists, researchers, and students from over 108 countries.