Wed 25 Mar 2020
Yesterday the International Olympic Committee made the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to next year, at a date no later than July 2021, amidst the ongoing worldwide impact of COVID-19.
For many Mitchelton-SCOTT athletes the Olympic Games were a huge and important goal for their 2020 seasons, in particular, for two riders that were key medal contenders for the women´s road race; world championship silver medalist Amanda Spratt and the current world road race champion Annemiek van Vleuten.
Both Spratt and Van Vleuten support the decision from the IOC, to prioritise global health in these difficult circumstances.
Amanda Spratt – 2019 World Road Race Silver Medalist
“To be honest when the announcement was made it wasn’t a surprise. The Australian Olympic Committee had already indicated as much and so it felt more like a little bit of relief that the IOC also came to the same conclusion.
“Right now, we are in a global crisis and it’s clear that the most important thing is the health and safety of everyone, and this should always be a priority over any cycling race or sporting event. I think it’s really really important to remember this.
“We can all make a difference by taking it seriously and following the rules wherever we are, and I think this needs to be the focus now so we can do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus.
“Obviously there is disappointment that the Olympics in Tokyo won’t happen this year after being such a huge goal of mine, but I’m happy they have postponed the event rather than cancelling it.
“My goals and dreams haven’t changed it’s just that the dates have changed and that’s something I’m coming to terms with.
“It was also becoming clearer over the last few weeks that even if the Olympics had taken place it would not have been a fair Olympic games. So many athletes are now in lockdown, unable to train properly whilst others can still train outside like normal. I also think the Olympics should be a celebration of sport and a chance to inspire and be inspired. In the current global crisis this would not have been possible or appropriate.
“When I first heard about all the races being cancelled, like the Cobbled Classics and the Ardennes, it was hard. I also felt a bit conflicted in my thoughts. It felt strange to feel so down about it all when there were so many people worse off around the world at the same time due to the virus and the global effect it was having. But at the end of the day this is our job and our passion so it’s also normal to feel this way too.
“It’s involved re-adjusting and adapting goals and also being flexible. I’ve had so much great support around me and staying connected with people has made me see the bigger picture as well.
“It’s hard to plan too far ahead and it’s so easy to sit here and speculate for hours. I’ve spoken a lot with my coach Gene Bates and I have a plan now that feels exciting and motivating.
“We don’t know really when the next race will be, but I will plan as if the Giro-Rosa can be on and if that doesn’t happen, I will move onto further goals in the season. I am always more of an optimist and like to be positive so I prefer to have this mindset now to help my focus and motivation moving forwards.”
Annemiek van Vleuten – 2019 World Road Race Champion
“I think it is a good decision that has been made to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until 2021. I also think it is much better for global health to postpone the Games until 2012 rather than trying to host an Olympics this year at a later date. Global health is the most important thing I am concerned about right now.
“Now everybody has the certainty that it will not take place this year and athletes don’t need to be stressed about training. There´s less pressure on everybody, many people around the world are already stressing about being stuck inside and the whole situation with the virus.
“Athletes are stuck inside and can´t train properly, I want to enjoy the Olympics and know it is a fair Olympics Games. One where everybody is able to have a normal preparation. Now also with the Olympic qualifications, many athletes don’t have an equal opportunity to qualify, which is not ok.
“Hopefully we can all enjoy the Olympics next year and it will be something to celebrate, but for now the main focus and concern for me and for everybody has to be on global health.”