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Tokyo Olympics postponed until next year

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Bermuda's athletes have reflected on the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer because of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The Games, which were scheduled to start on July 24, will now be held “no later than summer 2021”, the International Olympic Committee confirmed yesterday. Despite taking place in 2021, the event will be called Tokyo 2020.

Caitlyn Bobb, a sprinter, was among the Bermuda qualifiers and preparing for her debut at “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

But, aged 16, she said she knew that time was on her side and that the 12-month delay would work in her favour.

Bobb, who has qualified for the 400 metres, explained: “I'm actually excited that it's been postponed.

“It means I'll have more time to fine-tune race techniques and strategies that I need to perfect.”

Bobb, the daughter of Dawnette Douglas, who represented Bermuda at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, added: “Now that I have qualified, it has taken the stress off my shoulders and I'm just gunning to perform well at the Olympics next year.”

Bobb, a pupil at Harford Technical High School in Maryland, still hopes to compete in Bermuda for the first time at the Carifta Games, postponed this month until later this year because of Covid-19.

She said she would continue with a limited training schedule until she could compete again.

She added: “It's going to be difficult because the coronavirus has limited our training possibilities.

“You can't go outside and train on the local track. I'm just doing at-home workouts to try and maintain my fitness.”

The Tokyo Paralympic Games has also been postponed until 2021.

Jessica Lewis, a two-time Paralympian, said she had “mixed emotions” after she heard the Games had been delayed.

But she insisted she would not have wanted to compete against a weakened field of athletes.

Some of the top wheelchair sprinters are from Australia and Canada, the two countries that pulled out of Tokyo on Monday.

Lewis, 26, said: “As athletes, we plan out every aspect of our lives that will help us reach our goals and this has certainly never been part of the plan.

“However, it's a relief to know they are thinking about the health and safety of the athletes.

“You want to make sure that when you compete you're at your best, especially when you go to an Olympics or Paralympics because that's the highest level you can reach.”

Lewis, who has returned to Bermuda from Mississauga, Canada, to be with her family, added: “We have a little bit longer to prepare and however heartbreaking this is we can take some relief in knowing that when the Games do take place it will be an accurate representation of the hard work, dedication and amazing spirit of humankind in sport.”

Tyrone Smith, a veteran long jumper, said he accepted the decision to postpone the Games meant his international career was probably over.

The 35-year-old three times Olympian added: “I'll do everything I can to hold on and qualify, but it gets more difficult the older you get.”

The organisers of Tokyo 2020 and the IOC said the Games had been postponed to “safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community”. The two bodies said: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.

“Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

The Olympics have never been delayed in their 124-year modern history, but were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 because of the two world wars.

Australia and Canada decided to withdraw from the Games on Monday and the British Olympic Association said it was unlikely to send a team to Tokyo if the Games were held this summer.

Looking for the positives: Caitlyn Bobb says the postponement of the Olympics will give her more time to prepare for Tokyo (Photograph supplied)
Mixed emotions: wheelchair sprinter Jessica Lewis (Photograph by Miriam Jeske/Lima 2019)
In progress: Workers stand at the bottom of the Olympic rings at Tokyo's Odaiba district yesterday (Photograph by Eugene Hoshiko)

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Published March 24, 2020 at 12:10 pm (Updated March 25, 2020 at 12:41 pm)

Tokyo Olympics postponed until next year

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