Coronavirus: Welsh athletes react to Olympic postponement

Jade Jones (right) is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in the women’s 57 kg category

Double Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones says the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic is “devastating,” even though she understands the decision.

The event, due to begin on 24 July in Tokyo, Japan, will now take place “no later than summer 2021”.

Jones was aiming for a historic third successive Olympic gold medal.

“As an elite athlete, it is very de-motivating and mentally tough,” Jones said. “I’m truly gutted.”

The postponement of the Olympics Games and Paralympics was announced in a statement released on Tuesday, 24 March by the organisers of Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee.

Jones says it is difficult to shrug off the disappointment even though she endorses the decision to delay the Games.

“You give your heart and soul to something for four years then for it not to go ahead is just horrible,” she said.

“Obviously health comes first, and my biggest priority right now is protecting my family and my loved ones, and doing everything I can do help save the lives of others.

“I’m a very positive person but the idea, right now, of having to devote myself to another year’s slog is a very difficult one.”

Elinor Barker revealed last year that the pain caused by endometriosis almost forced her to quit the sport

Barker’s double blow

Welsh cyclist Elinor Barker, the only Great Britain rider to win a gold medal at the recent Track Cycling World Championship, echoed Jones’ disappointment.

“Well, that’s that. Olympics postponed a year and Tokyo 2020 becomes Tokyo 2021,” she wrote on Instagram.

“I’m devastated. That’s not to say I disagree with the decision, 100% understand and respect the reasons.

“I know there are bigger issues right now, and this pales in comparison to the loss a lot of people around the world are experiencing, but I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt a little.”

Barker also revealed on social media that she had been studying for a degree, but had deferred her last year to concentrate on the Olympics.

“The extra fun irony is that the only reason I started studying in the first place was because it gave me something to do on training camps, which my coach often referred to as ‘quarantine’,” she wrote.

How Welsh athletes reacted

Dai Greene, world champion hurdler: “Tokyo 2021, the work continues. Adapt and overcome.”

Mellissa Courtney-Bryant, middle distance runner: “My Olympic dream may have to wait another year, but I’ll be making the most of this extra year to be even better for 2021. Hope everyone is staying safe, abiding the lockdown rules & enjoying this beautiful sunshine.”

Sam Gordon, sprinter: “Don’t change the goal, change the plan – Tokyo 2021.”

Stephen Morris, Paralympic 1500m runner: “One more year. New plan. Same target.”

Ben Pritchard, Paralympic rower: “Tokyo 2020 to be postponed. Right now the world is facing a global pandemic. Sport is a very minor part in this and whilst I am saddened by today’s announcement, I applaud the IPC in making the right decision. The goal posts have moved, but the aim is the same.”

Hollie Arnold, Paraympic javelin thrower: “2021 is the new 2020… Heartbreaking news to get my head round that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will be postponed until 2021. I fully understand that it’s the correct decision and the safest option for all athletes and everyone else involved. Stay safe. Be kind.”

BBC News

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