Athletes Are Heartbroken Over the Olympics Are Being Postponed
But there's some good news, too.
This morning, the news was official: the 2020 Olympics would be postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus. Athletes had been expecting the news, especially after Canada refused to send its competitors to the games and calls came from around the world saying that continued training couldn't happen under stringent lockdowns in certain places and the risks associated with traveling to the games if they were to happen. Now, faced with the reality that the games will likely occur in 2021, Olympians are faced with new realities: continued training and, for some, continued struggles.
The New York Times spoke to silver medalist Steele Johnson, a diver, who says that as an Olympic diver, he's had to make financial sacrifices to pursue the sport he loves. Though he has a degree in film and video studies from Purdue, he told the paper that he and his wife are on a tight budget and though he does receive a stipend for being on the national team, it's not enough. He was hoping to secure a sponsor after the Tokyo games.
“We’ve had a very, very tough year financially,” he said. “I don’t know if I could keep up a lifestyle like this for another 12 to 15 months of just diving without getting a full-time job. It’s hard to think about making more sacrifices than we already have.”
Sprinter Alyson Felix echoed his sentiment, writing in an op-ed for Time, "this news feels like a crushing blow. I’ve woken up every morning for the last 6,055 days, since I was 17 years old, relentlessly pursuing Olympic Gold."
Laurie Hernandez, a gymnast that won a team gold medal and a bronze in the balance beam at the Rio Games, says that the postponement is giving her more time to train. She parlayed Olympic fame into competing on and winning Dancing With the Stars and then hosted American Ninja Warrior Junior.
Katie Ledecky, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, focused on the positives in a Tweet about the situation, saying that at the moment, public health should take precedent: "As we stand together to meet today’s challenges, we can dream about a wonderful Olympics in a beautiful country. Now is the time to support all those working to heal the sick and keep us all healthy."
Other athletes joined her.
A bit of good news came from USWNT player Carli Llyod, who made a huge decision after the news this morning: she was putting off her retirement to compete for one more gold medal with her team.
“I was going to take it to this summer’s Olympics and then see where I was mentally and physically,” Lloyd told the L.A. Times. “I wasn’t sure when I would officially retire. So now I have the opportunity to stick around for another year and it would be a dream come true to win gold with my teammates. That would be satisfying enough for me to officially retire."