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Tokyo's wild celebrations fill a void at the Games' empty arenas

With no spectators because of the pandemic, the hoopla and hollering has come from national delegations, who have brought the noise during competition.

If they awarded medals for celebrations at the Olympics, there would be no shortage of legitimate contenders in Tokyo.

How about Australian surfer Owen Wright? His choreographed knock-out routine with a circle of supporters is sure to please. You’d be happy too if you recovered from a devastating brain injury, as Wright did, to win a bronze medal at the Games.

Then there’s Kevin Cordon of Guatamala, who absolutely mugs his coach after advancing in badminton. He became the first Latin American to advance to the sports quarterfinals at the Games.

The leading contender, of course would be Australian swimming coach Dean Boxall, whose fist-pumping, hip-flexing, gyrations became an instant social media sensation after Ariarne Titmus won her stunning victory in the women's 400m freestyle. “I think I went outside of my body,” he is quoted as saying after the race last week. “I just lost it.”

The Olympics is one big celebration and it’s not always about winning and losing. With no spectators at this year’s Games, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hoopla and hollering has come from national delegations, who have brought the noise during competition.

Cheering has been discouraged at this year’s Games because of the risk of spreading a COVID-19 infection, but the rule has been difficult to enforce during the high drama of Olympic competition.

So, Uzbeks have been beating drums at boxing, Mongolian coaches pounded on plastic bleachers seats at 3x3 hoops and the flag-waving Chinese cheered so much at table tennis that Japanese media complained it felt like an away match for the home team.

Inside the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, divers emerged from the water to cheers from teammates, coaches and officials. "It does make a world of difference," said American Jessica Parratto after picking up a silver medal with teammate Delaney Schnell. "We know that Team USA always cheers super loud and are super obnoxious and we love that."

Reuters contributed.