Tokyo 2021 #1YearToGo

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Tokyo Olympic Games will go on but not at its scheduled time which was July 24 due to COVID-19.

The coronavirus has caused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the world's greatest sporting event to next year.

On Tuesday, T&T Olympic Committees (TTOC) president Brian Lewis expressed his organisation's full support to the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee for their joint decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The message from the IOC on Tuesday is the Games are on, just not this year! I am happy the IOC didn't cancel the Games," said Lewis.

"The health of the athletes and all Olympic stakeholders is the number one priority," said Lewis. "The TTOC appreciates the certainty this decision provides athletes and NOCs (national organising committees) who can now plan on the basis that the Games will not take place this year but not later than summer 2021."

The world was awaiting the exciting sporting period from July 24 to August 9 to witness its best athletes on display in Japan but the spread of COVID-19 has forced the IOC to reschedule at dates still be announced.

Lewis feels that it is important that the IOC announces the new dates within the four-week window, saying: "The decision to postpone isn't a surprise. I had indicated to the IOC March 17 during a teleconference with president Thomas Bach that the TTOC and I had concerns about the impact of COVID-19 and we believed that October 2020 reschedule was practical and responsible, subject to WHO (World Health Organisation) guidance so postponement was our preferred option."

The IOC statement said to a date beyond 2020 and not later than Summer 2021, to which Lewis said, "My preference would have been October 2021. Why October because it's cooler than the heat and humidity of July/August."

Next year is already packed with the Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe, the Junior Pan Am Games and the Commonwealth Youth Games 2021 which is scheduled from August 1-7 in T&T.

"The IOC decision beyond 2020 and before Summer 2021 has implications for several events globally. The Track and Field World Championships is scheduled for 2021 in Oregon, USA, Fina Aquatics World Championships is 2021 in Japan and the Track and Field World Indoor Championships," said Lewis, though adding, "I am sure our athletes prefer addressing the problems and challenges of having to refocus rather than deal with a cancelled Olympics."

<T&T athletes support decision>

Lewis was on point with this comment as Olympic-bound and T&T's leading athletes including sailor Andrew Lewis, swimmer Dylan Carter, long-jumper Anduwelle Wright and sprinters Jereem Richards and Richard Thompson and shot-putter Cleopatra Borel agreed that it is the best decision that could have been made by the IOC.

"The world is suffering right now and I think it is important that we should put everything aside so that we can help one another," said Lewis, who is quarantined in his apartment in Spain. He encouraged all to listen to what is being said back home in T&T to stay inside to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"Never expected this day would come to have the opportunity to have a lot more time to prepare for the Olympics. I've never been number one in the world but more time could help me get there so I'm very thankful for this opportunity for the chance to be the best you can be."

Carter was frustrated by the decision to postpone but agrees that it is a chance to get better saying: "I can't say it's not disappointing for me. I was feeling like we were in the home stretch. All these years of work that was coming together. I'm in the best shape of my life right now and feeling great and it kind of sucks right now that I can't put something together to prove that or see what I can do right now. That being said though I think that next year I will be even better than I would have been this year."

The national track and field athletes had similar mindsets.

Richards said, "It was the right decision made by the IOC for the greater good of humanity and to defeat the coronavirus and the spread of it. We saw the closure of the NBA, the NCAA system and everything closing down so until further notice nobody can't compete in any sport.

"I am a little bit disappointed but I understand why it has to be done. There are pros and cons to this, you have more time to prepare, more time to be ready to work on your weaker areas and focus on the positive. Things are going to change in terms of training but I'm focused on staying fit."

Wright, who will be making his debut at the Games, said: "It hurt a lot of athletes knowing that they were preparing for the Olympics this year and now that it is a year later.

I've been training but lack of competition because of the coronavirus was a serious issue for most athletes including myself. It's back to the drawing board and tweak my programme a bit and go back out for next year."

For Thompson, he was more bothered by the length of time the IOC took to come to the decision saying: "To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that it took as long as it did to see the IOC make this decision. It sort of took their back is against the wall from the withdrawal of the Canadian team and the Australian team and many of the federations. Nevertheless, they came to a decision I think that should have been made about two of three weeks ago but they made the right decision."

Borel was happy and relieved to have a direction from the IOC saying: "Athletes were putting their lives at risk to prepare for the Games and so now we can take the necessary precautions that are best for the entire globe to ensure that so many lives are saved and why yes, of course, athletics is my life, actual lives matters the most."

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