Irish sprinters Thomas Barr and Phil Healy have welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021, a decision announced today after talks between Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach.
With tracks and gyms closed around the country, it had become increasingly difficult in recent weeks for athletes to train.
“It’s been awkward so in a way the announcement is a relief,” said Barr, an Olympic finalist in 2016.
“There was still talk of it going ahead and that the decision might take four weeks, but that would have been four weeks of awkwardly trying to train and putting ourselves, our squad, our coaches at risk. To hear it’s been pushed on a full year really does take the pressure off us.”
Barr spoke to his coach, Hayley Harrison, shortly after the announcement and they decided the best approach is to ease back on training and maintain fitness should a late track season take place, with no decision yet made on the European Championships which are scheduled for the last week of August in Paris.
“We’ll tip away, keep on top of rehab and gym work and whatever bit of running stay we can tick over,” said Barr. “If we have to try come out and get fit and fast again for a couple of races at the end of the season, we can do that.”
Healy has been training in Curracloe for the past couple of weeks and she believes postponing until 2021 was the only sensible choice.
“If they let an Olympics go ahead that was not a proper Olympics it’s not good for anyone. At the end of the day it’s putting athletes’ safety first. You need to showcase the athletes’ ability when they’re at their best, when they can train properly. Pushing it out will make it the biggest celebration in 2021 and it will be a momentous Olympics.”