The Tokyo Olympics have ended, with the closing ceremonies wrapping things up Sunday (NBC will broadcast them Sunday evening in the US). But before we bid farewell to one of the more unusual Olympics in recent memory, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station have a few last-minute entries for judges’ consideration.
French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency posted a series of four videos to Twitter showing some of the ISS astronauts performing — I guess we’ll call them “routines”— in zero gravity that would make fine additions to future Olympics. They even hung little flags of all the countries represented over their performance area. The videos are pretty adorkable (and watch with the sound on, I promise it’s worth it for the music and the play-by-play).
We start with the “lack of floor routine” gymnastics— I can’t figure out the rules here (is it touch nothing or touch everything?) but everyone gets points for style:
Space #Olympics 1/4:— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 6, 2021
Lack-of-floor routine – much to Pyotr for completing his routine without touching anything, a difficult feat!
Gym hors-sol – on ne dirait pas comme ça, mais les immobilisations en plein vol de Piotr requièrent une grande expérience#MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/gXAHSHHmcu
Next up is “no-handball” aka space field hockey, which seems much, much harder in zero gravity, and they sort of adapt and modify the rules as they go along:
Space #Olympics 2/4:— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 6, 2021
No-handball – we had to adapt the rules a bit during the match, much investment on both sides for the win.
Handball sans les mains – les règles ont dû être adaptées au cours d’un match que nous décrirons sobrement comme intense. pic.twitter.com/dVOv3GRThD
This is my personal favorite: “synchronized space swimming” they clearly worked hard on these routines despite the lack of water that the terrestrial version of the sport requires:
Space #Olympics 3/4:— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 6, 2021
Synchronised space swimming – an opportunity to show teamwork and crew cohesion.
Flottation synchronisée – l’occasion de démontrer une des plus importantes compétences un astronaute : l’esprit d’équipe #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/Ljo65AkzNQ
And finally we have weightless sharpshooting where they shoot what look like rubber bands at a makeshift target:
Space #Olympics 4/4:— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 6, 2021
Weightless sharpshooting – concentration and skill (or luck) proved necessary to reach the target.
Tir sans gravité – concentration et persévérance ont dicté cette épreuve pour bien négocier la trajectoire des élastiques#MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/eV2cSxEWQ5
You guys, they even did a “closing ceremony” on Sunday; Aki Hoshide of JAXA (Japan’s space agency) handed an Olympic flag to the Frenchman Pesquet, extremely fitting since the 2024 Olympics will be in Paris.
Avec Aki on a pris un peu d’avance sur la #ClosingCeremony en attendant le vrai passage de relais #Tokyo2020 -> #Paris2024 sur dans quelques heures— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 8, 2021
With the @Tokyo2020 @Olympics ending today and the next #Olympics to be @Paris2024, @Aki_Hoshide and I held a ceremony pic.twitter.com/7dpYBr4Xwu
The real Olympics are fine and all, and congratulations to everyone who won a medal, but I think watching astronauts twirl in synch with each other and bat around a tiny ball in space would draw huge audiences to future games. Get on it, International Olympic Committee.