Athletes from around the world are coming to terms with Tokyo 2020’s postponement with a mixture of relief and sadness.
The decision to push back competition until 2021 came as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) faced mounting pressure to delay the Games, which were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9 this year, amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach finally agreed to a postponement Tuesday, the first time the Olympics have ever been delayed in their 124-year modern history.
Writing on Twitter, Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge praised the “wise decision” to postpone the Games until 2021, adding that he looked forward to defending his title in Japan and “witness a wonderful event.”
Meanwhile, USA’s double Olympic swimming gold medalist from Rio 2016, Lilly King, opted for a short and simple message, writing on Instagram: “Just one more year to get better #Tokyo2020.”
‘Waited eight years for this’
Athletes and individual federations had begun questioning whether it was safe to stage the Games in Tokyo amid the global pandemic and had started to urge organizers to take action as soon as possible.
Australia and Canada then became the first countries to pull their athletes out of the competition, which led to a number of other nations doing the same.
World champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson was one of the leading athletes who had raised her concerns about competing in Japan later this year.
“Waited eight years for this, what’s another one 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! Stay indoors,” the Briton wrote on Twitter.
Similarly, Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers wrote on Instagram that she had been looking forward to competing in Tokyo this summer but “for now we have to look at the bigger picture and do whatever it takes to beat the coronavirus.”
‘Struggling with a much bigger problem’
While areas of the world are now emerging from up to two months in quarantine, parts of Europe have shut down, notably Italy, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak on the continent.
“Today we are all struggling with a much bigger problem and although August still seems far away, the security for such a big event was very difficult. See you in 2021,” Italian track cycling champion Elia Viviani wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, US swimmer Ryan Lochte admitting to being a little annoyed, given the training he has put in.
“This Olympics was going to be the most important Olympics of my career because of everything that’s happened in my past,” he told the LA Times.
“But this whole thing is way bigger than me. It’s way bigger than the Olympians. It’s affecting the entire world right now. Our main thing is staying safe and healthy.”