COMMONWEALTH gold medallist Jereem Richards said there are pros and cons of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games being postponed by a year because of the novel coronavirus, but knows it is for the greater good.
On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said they would decide in four weeks if the Olympic Games, originally scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9, will be postponed.
However, on Tuesday, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe asked president of the IOC Thomas Bach to postpone the Games and he agreed “100 per cent.”
Tuesday’s announcement follows the decision by countries to not send a team to the Olympics, including Canada and Australia – teams that normally send hundreds of athletes to the Games. USA Swimming and USA Track and Field also asked for the Olympics to be postponed.
USA, Australia and Canada sent 555, 421 and 314 athletes respectively to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The 26-year-old Richards, who was part of the 32-member TT contingent at the 2016 Olympics, said, “I think it was a smart decision by the IOC because the coronavirus is definitely a great threat to this world and humanity, and the best way of trying to beat the coronavirus or trying to flatten the curve is to try to postpone or get rid of all forms of gathering. Sadly the Olympics falls into that category and will have to be postponed.”
Richards, who won 200-metre gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, said there are advantages and disadvantages of the postponement.
“I am sure that there are a lot of people that weren’t ready, I am sure there are a lot of people that probably needed more time to be prepared and now we have the time to do so, but (concerning) the cons I am sure there are a lot of athletes where this was definitely their last Olympics or they were planning to retire after this Olympics.
“Now they have to go on for a year and some people probably were in really good shape going into the Olympics and you have to preserve that form and carry it on to another year,” Richards continued. “There are pros and cons when we look at the whole situation, but I definitely believe that it is for the greater good of humanity and God always has a plan, so we just have to go along and have faith and everything will work out for the best.”
Sporting events around the world, including in TT, have been postponed or cancelled over the last two weeks.
Among the events being postponed are the first three meets of the 2020 Diamond League, an event where track and field athletes use to fine-tune, heading up to the Olympics.
Richards said if the Olympics were held as scheduled athletes would have been lacking competition. “This is why I believe they made this decision also because there won’t be enough meets for athletes to perform at a high level, so in a sense it would have been watered-down in terms of performance (if it started in July).
“Not everyone is able to perform without having meets…and I believe having it next year and everything being cleared up we will be able to have meets, so we could sharpen up to see where we are at based on how we practice and based on how our form is in competition.”
TT 200m 2019 World Championship finalist Kyle Greaux, who told Newsday that he wanted the Games postponed last Friday, was satisfied with the decision. Greaux, 31, said, “I applaud the decision by the IOC to postpone it. I think it was the right decision.”
Greaux knows that everybody won’t agree with the decision, but the majority will benefit by the Games being postponed.
Greaux said he now has a clear path going forward because over the last few months there was a lot of speculation when the Olympics will be held. “I feel a bit relieved going forward. It will have a sense of direction in terms of a timeline (and) in terms of the next season leading up to Olympics with proper preparation.”