2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games postponed over Covid-19 fears

By Sarah Livingston

The 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan have been postponed. The Games, which were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 – August 9, will now take place no later than the summer of 2021 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This comes after the International Olympic Committee issued a statement yesterday confirming what had already been predicted earlier this week by IOC member Dick Pound.

Speaking to UWS News, Team Great Britain badminton player Kirsty Gilmour said she thinks the decision to postpone the Games was the right thing to do: “the one that I and the other members of the BWF Athlete Commission and the continental Athlete Commissions wanted to see.”

Kirsty Gilmour at Yonex IFB 2013

The IOC originally laid out a deadline to announce their decision in 4 weeks’ time, but as more and more sporting events announced postponements and cancellations, the decision came sooner than expected.

There is uncertainty surrounding how the postponed Games will work logistically. Qualifications may be affected, as athletes will now have another full year to prepare. As of right now, nothing has been officially decided.

“Now we just have to wait and see what will happen with our rankings and possibly a new qualification period. Who knows. We’ll wait and see.” -Kirsty Gilmour

Even with all of this uncertainty, health is the top priority right now. The global number of Covid-19 cases has risen to over 420 thousand, with just over 8000 of those in the UK.

“Of course it’s disappointing that we don’t get to play in an Olympics Games this summer which everyone has been working so hard towards for the past year. But for the health of the athletes, the volunteers, support teams and the Japanese public this is definitely a good decision.” -Kirsty Gilmour

Joelle Bekhazi, part of Team Canada’s women’s water polo team, says the decision has been a “roller coaster of emotions. I’m extremely relieved with the decision the IOC took in postponing the games.” She had been set to compete in Tokyo this summer. While it will be difficult to navigate the challenges that come with the postponement of the Games, she is looking ahead to another year to prepare.

“It also allows for another year of preparation and really takes off the pressure of trying to stay in shape and train in not the most ideal circumstances. Our priority today is to concentrate on our collective health and wellbeing all over the world.” -Joelle Bekhazi

Joelle Bekhazi, Team Canada

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced on Monday that they would not be sending athletes to the Games. The Australian Olympic Committee did the same, and British Olympic Association later threatened that they would be unable to put a team together.

“I take tremendous pride in how Canada took a stand. There is no better way to move on from this most difficult time than seeing the world brought together through sport the way only the Olympic Games can.” -Joelle Bekhazi

Since the first Olympic Games in 1896, they have only been cancelled three times. Because the 2020 Games will be postponed, not cancelled, they will be the first ever Games to be hosted during a year ending in an odd number.

The postponement of the Games will also have a huge impact on athletes’ training schedules. Lots of work goes into preparing for a big event, and athletes will have been prepared to be at their peak this summer. Many athletes, however, are embracing the extra time.

Eilish McColgan, 5000m runner, Team Great Britain
Claressa Shields, Boxer, Team USA
Oskar Kirmes, Gymnast, Team Finland

Until then, the Olympic flame will remain lit.

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