Did we finally witness the start of the Tokyo Olympics this week as the Olympic torch relay kicking off in Japan? 

Seeing the flame start its journey around Japan will bring some reassurance around preparation and the increasing likelihood that a life dream for most of the athletes is coming closer.  

The planned 10,000 torch runners will weave their way across the country in time to arrive in the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony.

But what will that life dream be like with no family or friends there? 

I remember racing In London and a big part of the games experience was the crowds. 

This was especially true for rowing, as up until then the biggest crowd we had raced in front of was a few dog walkers. 

When the organising committee - who are working around the clock to get these games off the ground - announced that there will be no international spectators, you could sense how much the clock is definitely ticking now towards the July start. 

How would you feel as the athlete possibly racing in an empty stadium? 

I was talking with a few team-mates on the British Paracycling team this week about that, and it was a mixed bag of emotions. 

One friend told me it looks like he will fly in, race and fly home again. 

It will be a far cry from the normal Games experience.

Still, for many who have never been it could be the only chance to win an Olympic medal in their life and we can’t underestimate that. 

It is easy to have an opinion on that the games shouldn’t go ahead if you are not an athlete who has trained for years to have that opportunity. 

I had to let go of that dream when I was diagnosed again and faced more surgery and radiotheraphy - so I can see it from both sides.

But I would love to see my friends race and win. Even if there are no spectators, it is their chance to race at the Games. 

The world is divided on if the Games should run. 

While it has been reassuring to see many sports run a competition calendar for able bodied athletes, but what of the Paralympics. 

The UCI has managed to organise a very impressive season despite covid, but with the Para World track championships cancelled along with pretty much all summer races in Europe, the games would offer possibly the only race in almost two years for para cycling. 

As a cyclist this has been frustrating to see no para cycling events running, especially when other para sports have manged to have some level of competition. 

For sports like karate who have worked for years to get into the Olympic family, Tokyo could be their only games.

Paris did not select karate, so Tokyo for now is a one-off chance to experience the Olympics. For these athletes the Olympics really are a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

As Japan slowly roll out their vaccine program it is clear that when the games start the population will not be vaccinated.

While there is an agreement that the athletes don’t need to take the vaccine to compete what would happen if one athlete, coach or media person was to test positive? 

In Jamaica, Yohan Blake, one of the world’s highest profile athletes and who has many young athletes looking up to him has said publicly that he will not be getting the vaccine and would rather not go to the Olympics than take it. 

This has created an important conversation around how the IOC and the Japanese organizing committee handle the personal wishes of athletes as to whether they wish to take the vaccine. 

What implication does this have on athletes around the world both psychologically and physically? I see the viewpoints from either side of the vaccine debate and so can empathise with both. With this said, it presents yet another hurdle for the games. 

The Japanese public are still very nervous and polls still show that around 80 percent of the Japanese population do not want the games to go ahead; even with no international spectators. 

Part of the essence of the Olympics is to have a strong base of local support so that the hosing country can showcase their culture, history and its enthusiasm for sport. 

I don't have all the answers. So I end this week’s column with a number of questions for debate. 

Should the Games go ahead at all? 

What impact will having no international spectators have on the energy of the Olympics for the athletes? 

Should taking the vaccine be made compulsory for athletes? 

And what impact would making the vaccine compulsory have on the mental health of the athletes combined with the lack of spectators at what is for many of them a once in a lifetime event for which they have spent years preparing?