Reaction to postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics


(Reuters) – Athletes, national associations and sporting federations worldwide reacted with sadness, relief and mainly goodwill to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After weeks of speculation and mounting criticism at the delay in announcing a postponement, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach agreed the event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021 at the latest.

It is the first break in the four-year cycle for the summer Olympics since the 1940 and 1944 Games were canceled because of World War Two. Here are some reactions to the decision:

IOC President Thomas Bach:

“This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of the tunnel.”

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons:

“Sport is not the most important thing right now, preserving human life is.”

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland:

“This summer was supposed to be a culmination of your hard work and life’s dream, but taking a step back from competition to care for our communities and each other is the right thing to do.”

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe:

“It’s by a distance the right decision. The world is in a really difficult, dangerous situation. Sport can be no different… just simply it felt wrong to continue along that road given where the rest of the world is at the moment.”

Alfons Hormann, President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB):

“It confirms to the world population that everything in sports is also being done to bring the global pandemic under control as best as possible and as soon as possible.”

America-born Swedish pole vault world record holder Armand “Mondo” Duplantis:

“It’s a bummer, it’s a bummer that I won’t be able to compete in the Olympics this year, but you have to understand the situation, understand that some things are a little bigger than sport, and I guess we’ll have it next year.”

Britain’s world champion heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson:

“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!”

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge:

“All in all a very wise decision to postpone the Olympics until 2021. I look forward to come back to Japan to defend my Olympic title next year and look forward to witness a wonderful event. I wish everybody good health in these challenging times.”

Swedish Olympic swimmer Sara Sjostrom

“There was a few athletes who were supposed to quit after the Tokyo Olympics, but I’m sure they will continue another year. I think some of the young athletes, I think it’s good for them because they get one more year of hard training, they get one more year to try to get even closer to the best ones.”

Brazilian skateboarder Leticia Bufoni:

“After the Olympics we are not going to have a lot of contests, we are not going to get the attention that we are getting now. So I think it is going to be good to get another year of attention until we get to the Olympics.”

Japanese basketball player Rui Hachimura:

“Every Olympic athlete will be motivated to perform for the world next year and I believe it will be an even greater celebration of both sport and life in my home country after the world overcomes this pandemic.”

British cyclist Mark Cavendish:

“On a sporting side, there’s going to be a few nations thankful for 12 months more preparation!”

Belgian cyclist Victor Campenaerts:

“For my girlfriend (swimmer Fanny Lecluyse) this is a really strange time. She has already been selected so will she now be selected for next year’s Olympics? Will she have to qualify again?”

Former French gymnast Cecile Landi, who is currently part of American great Simone Biles’ coaching staff:

“We will regroup and ‘replan’ to get back strong for 2021! A new story begins.”

Britain’s five-time Paralympic gold medalist Hannah Cockroft, a wheelchair racer:

“We put so much into being in the shape of our lives for these Games, to add another year to those four is tough.”

Britain’s Tanni Grey-Thompson, winner of 16 Paralympic medals:

“It was the only decision in the end that could be taken, there is no ideal outcome out of this for any athlete,” she wrote in her column for The Telegraph.

U.S. women’s soccer player Carli Lloyd, a two-time Olympic champion:

“Disappointed … but I think for the safety of everybody, it’s definitely the best thing.”

American triple Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta, a sprinter and long jumper:

“Not denied. Just delayed.”

Reporting by Reuters bureaux, compiled by Martyn Herman and Hardik Vyas; editing by Christian Radnedge/Hugh Lawson/Toby Davis/Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford