The Australian Olympic Committee said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic had made it untenable to assemble a team for the 2020 Games. Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
The Australian Olympic Committee said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic had made it untenable to assemble a team for the 2020 Games. Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

'Heartbroken' Aussie athletes face up to Olympic reality

By Ian Ransom Time of article published Mar 24, 2020

Share this article:

MELBOURNE – Australian athletes were feeling a mixture of regret and relief on Tuesday following their national Olympic committee's decision to pull out of the 2020 Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus, while the country's top soccer competition also fell victim to the outbreak.

The Australian Olympic Committee said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic had made it untenable to assemble a team for the 2020 Games.

Twice Olympic champion swimmer Cate Campbell captured the mood of many of Australia's Tokyo hopefuls when she spoke of the virus “shattering” dreams and visions of the future.

“Heartbroken but not surprised,” the former 100 metres freestyle world champion wrote on social media.

“Yesterday it was Olympic athletes' turn to have their worlds turned upside down. To be honest, I'm left reeling and feeling a little lost. But the goal posts haven't disappeared - just shifted. It's time to recalibrate and fire up for the next challenge.”

Keesja Gofers, part of the women's water polo team that had already qualified for Tokyo, said postponement would be “devastating” for all would-be Olympians around the world.

“I have ridden not just a rollercoaster but the entire theme park of emotions,” she said on Instagram.

“I am relieved. Athletes around the world will now have the chance at a proper preparation and the Olympics can, on whatever date they are held, continue to be a coming together of the world's best at their best.”

View this post on Instagram

People around the world have had life as they know it completely shaken and replaced with uncertainty and questions. It is now our turn, as Olympic athletes, for our world to be flipped upside down. In the short time since the news the Tokyo Olympics Games will be postponed, I have ridden not just a rollercoaster but the entire theme park of emotions. I am devastated for myself, my team, Australian athletes and all those striving to compete at the Tokyo Olympics around the world. I was shocked when the postponement became a reality but at the same time, I am not surprised. I feel lost. I am overwhelmed with questions and thoughts of everyone impacted by the pandemic. This is unprecedented and the uncertainty can be overwhelming. Please reach out for help it you need it. I am relieved. Athletes around the world will now have the chance at a proper preparation and the Olympics can, on whatever date they are held, continue to be a coming together of the world's best at their best. I feel love from my team and from all your messages of support. Thank you, it really means a lot. Our Olympic dream is not over, just on hold right now. 💚💛 Stay safe and well. Look after your mental health, practice social distancing, wash your hands. We can curb the spread, protect each other, get through this together. #Olympics2021 #dreamliveson #washyourhands #spreadlove @waterpoloaus @ausolympicteam

A post shared by Keesja Gofers OLY (@keesjagofers) on

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will make a decision on the Tokyo Games within four weeks but IOC member Dick Pound told Reuters on Monday the global body had already resolved to postpone the Games.

Australia's former IOC vice president Kevan Gosper called on IOC chief Thomas Bach to make a decision immediately rather than dragging it out.

“It is impossible to hold a Games in July which would give all the athletes of the world the opportunity to come. It would also carry risks for the health of the athletes,” Gosper told The Australian newspaper.

“The IOC president doesn’t need more time to make a decision. He needs to move now to end the uncertainty.

“The (athletes) have to be taken off the hook earlier rather than later.”

Subscribe to the IOL Sport Newsletter!

More than 337,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide and over 14,600 have died.

Australia went into a national lockdown on Monday, with non-essential businesses and services cancelled as part of containment efforts.

After weeks of holding out against tightening travel curbs, Australia's A-League soccer competition was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday due to logistics problems.

“As a national competition, a competition that's played in almost all parts of Australia and also played in New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible,” Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson told a media conference in Sydney.

The A-League was the last of Australia's major sports competitions to fall, with the Australian Football League, the National Rugby League and Super Rugby all frozen in recent days.

Australia men's soccer coach Graham Arnold urged Olympic organisers to raise the age limit for the Games' under-23 soccer tournament to allow players to remain eligible in case Tokyo is delayed for a year.

“It's probably the only sport at the Olympics which has an age limit,” Arnold said.

“(Raising it) would be, I think, the fair thing.”

Reuters


Share this article:

Related Articles