Londoners gear up to support Olympic hometown heroes

Friends and family of London’s Olympic athletes are ready to watch, cheer, and celebrate as the Tokyo 2020 games open Friday, following a year of unprecedented setbacks due to COVID-19.

Supporters selling charity t-shirts, hosting viewing parties for local Olympians

On Sunday, top organizers appeared to lean away from rescheduling the Tokyo Olympic Games in spring of 2021, suggesting instead a preference for a summer date between June and September. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)

It's the moment they've been waiting for. 

Friends and family of London's Olympic athletes are ready to watch, cheer, and celebrate as the Tokyo 2020 games begin, following a year of unprecedented setbacks due to COVID-19. 

London basketball player Miranda Ayim carries the flag at the Opening Ceremonies, scheduled for Friday at 7 a.m. ET, and replaying in the evening at 7 p.m on CBC TV. She was born in Chatham-Kent but was raised in London where her family still lives. 

Drive-in viewing party for London swimmer

On July 25, members of the London Aquatic Club will meet at the Oxford Drive-In to watch Maggie Mac Neil compete in the women's 100 M butterfly final. 

Mac Neil, who attended Sir Frederik Banting Secondary School and the London Aquatic Club, is the current world champion for the women's 100 metre butterfly. 

Londoner Maggie Mac Neil will compete on July 26 in the 100-metre butterfly. (Provided by Andrew Craven)

Mac Neil's event takes place on July 26. So far, about 110 cars have committed to park in the 200-space drive-in parking lot and watch live at 9:30 p.m. 

"Maggie and, I think, all the other London-area athletes who are competing in Tokyo, it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to get to the level that they are," said Andrew Craven, Mac Neil's coach from the time she was 13 until she left for university. 

"In Maggie's case, her London Aquatic Club family has been behind her," he said. 

Live music will play before the viewing, and the film Black Widow will be screened at the drive-in after.

Damian Warner makes trek to Tokyo

Fans of London's Damian Warner can show some love by purchasing a "Team Warner" t-shirt, with all the proceeds going to KidSport London.

The record-breaking decathlete currently holds the title to the Pan Am Games record. He competes in the two-day decathlon on August 4 and August 5. 

London's Damian Warner, shown celebrating his silver medal win at Rio 2016, will be going for gold in the decathlon at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. (File/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Fischer, Warner's business manager, said the pandemic forced the Montcalm High School grad to spend the winter in London, where he trained at the Farquharson Arena.  

"Normally in the winter, he would travel to Florida or California for outdoor training," said Fischer. "That wasn't possible, so the London community really rallied behind him."

"It's such a Canadian story," he said. "We were able to convert an old freezing cold hockey rink into a facility that he could use. A few weeks ago, in his first competition in Austria, he actually finished the fourth best scorer in the history of the decathlon after having trained in that facility." 

In addition to the t-shirts, Fischer says a Zoom viewing party or celebration is in the works. 

"Those will be soon as we get everything clarified, as it always seems to be a work in progress, given what's happened with COVID." 

Fischer said a family-friendly event for the public to support Warner, with games and activities for children, is scheduled for August 2. The location has yet to be determined, but those interested can stay updated by visiting Warner's official website