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Utah athletes react after Tokyo Olympics postponed

Some Utah athletes are relieved and others are nervous about the announcement that the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo have been postponed. (Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

SALT LAKE CITY — There are some broken hearts, but, also a sense of relief in Utah after the International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

But despite the relief, some analysts say the delay will have a large impact on these athletes.

Salt Lake City resident Kathleen Noble earned a spot on the Ugandan rowing team for the Tokyo games. She admits that her ‘head hasn’t been right’ with all of the uncertainty over whether or not the games would be called off.

“Actually, it was kind of relieving that they made a decision,” she said, “because the last two weeks trying to train has been hard mentally.

“It was like, ‘Why am I putting in all this work?  It’s not going to happen, anyway.’”

Mixed emotions

The delay is definitely “a bummer,” Noble said, admitting she’s loved getting to know her coaches and her teammates. But, given the situation, she believes it would have been irresponsible for the games to continue as planned.  However, she’s not exactly sure if she’ll still have a spot on the team in 2021.

“I’m hoping that I don’t need to requalify.  I think it would be a big hassle to reorganize those qualification events,” Noble said.

Hall of Fame skier Trace Worthington says most of the spots on the U.S. ski team haven’t been awarded, yet.  So, a lot of frontrunners trying to make the team may have a tougher time getting a spot than they originally thought.

“Maybe, somebody was injured and now has recovery time.  Maybe, somebody is going to peak later and might get a spot,” Worthington said.

Timing is a crucial element for Olympic training, according to Worthington.  He says many athletes have planned their training so they would reach their physical peak by this summer.

He says, “All of the athletes are peaking very soon because they have to peak for the qualification process, which is, typically, supposed to happen right now.”

Complex decision making

Utah Sports Commission CEO Jeff Robbins says he’s not surprised the IOC took as long as they did to make their decision.  He says the business model of the games is extremely delicate, and postponing them can have a negative impact on many different industries.

“You’ve got sponsors putting significant resources into the games,” Robbins said.

Some analysts believe postponing the 2020 Olympics may affect how cities bid on the games in the future.  They say cities may reconsider once they see how something like a virus can ruin years of planning.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero, KSL TV



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