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Olympians give postponement plenty of likes

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge is prepared to wait to defend his title © AFP/File / Adrian DENNIS

PARIS, France, Mar 24 – Prospective Olympic competitors were quick out of the blocks on Tuesday after the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021 and most gave the decision the thumbs up on social media.

The consensus was the International Olympic Committee had made the right decision in the face of the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“All in all a very wise decision,” tweeted Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion and the only man to run the distance in less than two hours. “I look forward to come back to Japan to defend my Olympic title next year and look forward to witness a wonderful event.”

Italian cyclist Elia Viviani, a track gold medallist in Rio in 2016, whose country has recorded most deaths from COVID-19, summed up much of the reaction when he tweeted: “Postponing the Olympics to 2021 is the best decision for me. Today we are all struggling with a much bigger problem….So Olympics see you in 2021!”

One of his sprint rivals, Britain’s Mark Cavendish said: “BIG news and it’s the right call,” before adding: “On a sporting side, there’s going to be a few nations thankful for 12 months more preparation!”

Italy’s Elia Viviani won the Men’s omnium in Rio but says other things are more important at the moment © AFP/File / Eric FEFERBERG

Belgian cyclist Victor Campenaerts was worried about his girlfriend, swimmer Fanny Lecluyse: “She has already been selected, will she be selected for next year’s Olympics? Does she have to qualify again? She was planning to retire after these Games.”

For some athletes, like Simone Biles who had said she planned to retire after Tokyo, it means another year of hard work. Her coach said the US gymnasts were ready.

“As needed as it is, for every athlete especially gymnasts who’ve started this journey so young, worked as hard of even harder for this,” tweeted Cecile Landi, who competed for France but coaches in Texas.

“BUT We will regroup and ‘replan’ to get back strong for 2021!”

Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova, was less happy with the decision.

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“I’m very excited and now I’m very upset, we are all very upset. But now we have time,” she posted on Instagram. “I’ll do my best gymnastics ever. Let’s go with me.”

At 25, British diver Tom Daley, who has won medals at the last two Olympics, said the extra year would take a toll. “Yes, I’ll be another year older, and my body will feel that, but I promise to work my tail off”

Among athletes who might feel the stopwatch is against them, there was support.

Mary Kom, a 38-year-old Indian boxer and a member of parliament, who made news at the weekend by breaking quarantine after returning from abroad, to attend a breakfast hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind, tweeted: “Excellent and right decision.”

– ‘Same flame, new dates’ –

Carli Lloyd, a 37-year-old US footballer who has two gold medals told local television: “It’s bigger than an Olympics. I definitely think it’s the right call. Disappointed… but I think for the safety of everybody, it’s definitely the best thing.”

The 2012 women’s triathlon champion, Nicola Spirig, applauded the decision but hinted it could mark the end of her career.

“For the past months, I have been working daily towards my goal of competing at my fifth Olympic Summer Games…I am therefore glad to have clarity now and fully support the IOC’s decision,” the 38-year-old Swiss posted on Instagram.

The cancellation could mark the end of the road for London triathlon gold-medallist Nicola Spirig © AFP/File / FABRICE COFFRINI

“As far as my sporting future is concerned…I will take my time and discuss my options together with my family and team before coming to a decision in the weeks to come.”

Others did not try to hide their disappointment.

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“I’m devastated. That’s not to say I disagree with the decision, 100% understand and respect the reasons,” track cyclist Elinor Barker, who won gold with the British pursuit team in Rio posted on Instagram.

“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.”

But most expressed relief and optimism.

Dutch runner Dafne Schippers, who won silver in the 200 metres in Rio posted: “I was really looking forward…but for now we have to look at the bigger picture and do whatever it takes to beat the corona virus…let’s make sure we’ll celebrate even harder in 2021!”

US swimmer Lilly King, a double gold medallist in Rio, posted: “Just one more year to get better.”

“Not denied. Just delayed,” tweeted American triple Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta, a sprinter and long jumper.

“You gonna cry about it or boss up?” asked American wrestler Jordan Burroughs, a gold medalist in 2012, in a slangy tweet, “First of all imma do both.”

French double-Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner tweeter : “See you in 2021, Tokyo. First, we have a more important fight to win.”

British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith tweeted: “Tokyo2021. Same flame, new dates.”

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