NEWS

Prospective Olympians give postponement plenty of likes

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

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Paris , France (AFP) — Prospective Olympic competitors were quick out of the blocks yesterday after the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021, and most gave the decision the thumbs up on social media.

The consensus was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had made the right decision in the face of the uncertainty caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Italian cyclist Elia Viviani, a track gold medallist in Rio in 2016 whose country has recorded the most deaths from COVID-19, summed up much of the reaction when he tweeted: “Postponing the Olympics to 2021 is the best decision for me. Today we are all struggling with a much bigger problem...So Olympics, see you in 2021!”

One of his sprint rivals, Britain's Mark Cavendish, said: “BIG news, and it's the right call,” before adding: “On a sporting side, there's going to be a few nations thankful for 12 months' more preparation!”

For some athletes, like Simone Biles who had said she planned to retire after Tokyo, it means another year of hard work. Her coach said the US gymnasts were ready.

“As needed as it is for every athlete, especially gymnasts who've started this journey so young, worked as hard or even harder for this,” tweeted Cecile Landi, who competed for France but coaches in Texas.

“BUT, we will regroup and 'replan' to get back strong for 2021!”

Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova was less happy with the decision.

“I'm very excited and now I'm very upset; we are all very upset. But now we have time,” she posted on Instagram. “I'll do my best gymnastics ever. Let's go with me.”

At 25, British diver Tom Daley, who has won medals at the last two Olympics, said the extra year would take a toll. “Yes, I'll be another year older, and my body will feel that, but I promise to work my tail off.”

Among athletes who might feel the stopwatch is against them, there was support.

Mary Kom, a 38-year-old Indian boxer and a Member of Parliament, who made news at the weekend by breaking quarantine after returning from abroad, to attend a breakfast hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind, tweeted: “Excellent and right decision.”

 

Same flame, new dates

Carli Lloyd, a 37-year-old US footballer who has two gold medals, told local television: “It's bigger than an Olympics. I definitely think it's the right call. Disappointed...but I think for the safety of everybody, it's definitely the best thing.”

The 2012 women's triathlon champion, Nicola Spirig, applauded the decision but hinted it could mark the end of her career.

“For the past months, I have been working daily towards my goal of competing at my fifth Olympic Summer Games...I am therefore glad to have clarity now and fully support the IOC's decision,” the 38-year-old Swiss posted on Instagram.

“As far as my sporting future is concerned...I will take my time and discuss my options together with my family and team before coming to a decision in the weeks to come.”

Others did not try to hide their disappointment.

“I'm devastated. That's not to say I disagree with the decision; 100% understand and respect the reasons,” track cyclist Elinor Barker, who won gold with the British pursuit team in Rio, posted on Instagram.

“This pales in comparison to the loss a lot of people around the world are experiencing, but I can't pretend it doesn't hurt a little.”

But most expressed relief and optimism.

Dutch runner Dafne Schippers, who won silver in the 200 metres in Rio posted: “I was really looking forward...but for now we have to look at the bigger picture and do whatever it takes to beat the coronavirus...let's make sure we'll celebrate even harder in 2021!”

US Swimmer Katie Ledecky, who has five Olympic golds, tweeted: “As we stand together to meet today's challenges, we can dream about a wonderful Olympics in a beautiful country.”

Her US teammate Lilly King, a double gold medallist in Rio, posted: “Just one more year to get better.”

“Not denied. Just delayed,” tweeted American triple Olympic Champion Tianna Bartoletta, a sprinter and long jumper.

French double Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner tweeted : “See you in 2021, Tokyo. First, we have a more important fight to win.”

British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith tweeted: “Tokyo2021. Same flame, new dates.”

US Olympic 1,500-metre runner Ben Blankenship raised the issue of the Olympic volunteers, who are often retired people.

“You would put the athletes, fans, coaches and volunteers at risk of travelling,” he posted.

“Right now for the majority of volunteers, they're a little older. I think when you start saying in three months, two months, you're going to have to be leaving your house and be active and come in contact with tourists, that's a tough one.”