Climbing’s time at the ‘greatest show on earth’ will, sadly, have to wait after the British Olympic Association (BOA), British Paralympic Association (BPA) and UK Sport released a statement today that welcomed the news of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It’s still unclear how long the Games will be postponed for, but what is clear is that the scheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could not go ahead in the current worldwide pandemic.
Chief Executive of the BOA, Andy Anson, said: “It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support, in light of the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on our nation, our communities and our families.
“It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world no less is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision.”
The decision on how long the postponement will be has yet to be made. A joint statement from Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, and Abe Shinzo, Prime Minister of Japan, said that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community”.
The decision reflects not only the desire to protect the health of everyone involved in the Olympic Games, but also the unbalanced circumstances now affecting all athletes around the globe. Many of the Olympic sports – like climbing – require specialised training equipment. And despite the rise in climbers taking up ‘quarantraining’ many of those already qualified to represent their nations at sport climbing’s debut on the Olympic stage lack some of the most basic equipment.
Zoe Spriggins, BMC Competitions Programme Manager, said: “The BMC is of course hugely disappointed to hear of the postponement of sport climbing’s great debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but we absolutely feel it is the only decision under the circumstances.
“We must all now keep the faith that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will go ahead in the future and sport climbing will get to show the world just how exciting and inspirational it can be. What better way to celebrate and unite the world once more with sport through the Olympic Games.”
Shauna Coxsey, GB Climbing athlete who qualified for Tokyo 2020 said: “Like everyone in the world right now, I am having to adapt to restrictions, the disappointment of cancellations and a new way of living. It is a challenging time for us all but it is absolutely necessary.
“Sport has given me so much passion, love, challenge, growth, a career and most importantly a community. Now more than ever, we must think of others. The Olympics is a joyful event that inspires people from all over the World and brings communities together, but at this unprecedented time we must keep those communities safe and for this reason it is right to postpone the games.”
Fortunately now the athletes can turn their focus away from attempting to train to an elite Olympic standard in suboptimal conditions to more pressing matters – keeping themselves and their families safe from the devastating effects of the worldwide pandemic.
Andy Anson said: “We have incredible sympathy for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and indeed our colleagues at the IOC, who are working tirelessly to seek a positive outcome to this difficult scenario. The Olympic Games is a symbol of hope for us all and we are sure that we will be in Tokyo at the right and appropriate time as the world re-emerges from this dark period.”
The joint statement from the BOA, UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association concluded with a message of support and hope:
“Our thoughts remain with the families and individuals affected by COVID-19, as well as the front-line workers – including many health care professionals from the UK sports’ network – who are working to keep our communities safe and well.
“We also sympathise with the many hundreds of athletes, both in the UK and globally, whose careers and personal ambitions are being impacted after many years of hard work and training.
“We remain committed to taking our Olympic and Paralympic athletes to Tokyo for the next edition of the summer Games, at the appropriate time, in the hope that it will be a celebration of the world re-emerging from this unprecedented time.”
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HIGHLIGHTS: 2019 La Sportiva British Bouldering Championships