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Athletes react to Tokyo 2020 delay

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Tuesday, 24 March 2020 16:03

Some of the sport’s stars share views on the news that the Olympics and Paralympics will now be in 2021

The Olympic and Paralympic Games is the pinnacle, the ultimate goal for thousands of athletes across the globe. What happens when that goal gets moved?

Going by the reaction on social media, when it is due to a matter as serious as the current coronavirus pandemic, athletes adapt, put health first and refocus.

Although not easy to deal with, many have spoken out in support of the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games until 2021, backing up recent statistics from The Athletics Association which reported that in a survey of more than 4000 athletes, 78% of respondents said the Games should be delayed.

On Sunday the International Olympic Committee said a decision on the Games would be made within the next four weeks but, facing mounting pressure, postponement was confirmed just two days later.

READ MORE: Tokyo 2020 Games postponed to 2021

“We applaud the fact that this decision has been made much sooner than the original four week deadline,” said The Athletics Association. “Everyone now has clarity and can concentrate on keeping safe. The right decision.”

Vice president Emma Coburn, the USA’s 2017 world steeplechase champion and 2016 Olympic medallist, was among those to share her thoughts on Twitter and wrote: “Our dreams aren’t cancelled, they are just postponed.

“Looking forward to dreams coming true for athletes everywhere in 2021.”

While Kenya’s world marathon record-holder and Olympic gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge said: “All in all a very wise decision to postpone the Olympics until 2021.

“I look forward to come back to Japan to defend my Olympic title next year and look forward to witness a wonderful event. I wish everybody good health in these challenging times.”

Britain’s world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson had been among those to share her struggle to continue training and following news of the postponement, she wrote: “Waited 8 years for this, what’s another 1 in the grand scheme of things?

“As an athlete, it’s heartbreaking news about the Olympics being postponed until 2021, but it’s for all the right reasons and the safety of everyone! Hope everyone keeps safe and stay indoors.”

READ MORE: Athletes question IOC advice on Tokyo 2020

Despite proving that she’s in the form of her life right now, with British indoor record-breaking performances in the 800m, 1500m and mile over the winter, Jemma Reekie was still able to find positives and said: “I am going to use this extra year to get faster, stronger and fitter for the Olympics.

“I will use the hunger and excitement to push myself and make every minute count.

“Stay safe, be sensible and do what we are told. This will come to a end.”

While Britain’s Sophie Hahn, who hopes to defend her T38 100m title at the Paralympics, wrote: “It must have been a very difficult decision to postpone the Tokyo Games, especially when so many people had worked so hard to make it incredible.

“It will still be incredible next year. We will make sure of that.”

Dan Greaves, who got discus gold for Britain at the 2004 Paralympics, wrote: “Absolutely the right decision to postpone both the Olympics and Paralympics by a year.

“Health comes first and with that, athletes can now take care of theirs to make sure they are able to make the hard work count!”

His fellow thrower Joe Kovacs, the USA’s two-time world shot put champion and Olympic silver medallist, said: “I want to compete against the best when they are at their best, not when they have been training under unsuitable circumstances.

“Smart decision by the IOC to postpone the Olympic Games. For now, let’s focus on reestablishing the world’s health and safety.”

Another athlete to find a positive was Britain’s five-time Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockroft, who wrote: “Just think, at least I’m reigning Paralympic champion for another year!”

She added: “It’s the right decision, but it doesn’t make it any less gutting.

“We put so much into being in the best shape of our lives every 4 years, to add another year on to that is tough. But we have to just use this time to get stronger and faster, so that Tokyo 2021 is the biggest and best Games ever.

“Those that use this time wisely will come out on top when the Games eventually come around. The work and the wait are worth it, keep working, stay motivated but most importantly, stay safe, so this decision isn’t in vain.”

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