Olympic champion Whitlock training in back garden after Tokyo postponement

Max Whitlock on pommel horse
Max Whitlock won pommel and floor golds at Rio 2016

British gymnast Max Whitlock says he has been training in his garden to keep his Olympic preparations on track after the postponement of the Tokyo Games.

It was announced this week that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be delayed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitlock, 27, who won two golds in Rio, has a pommel horse in his garden.

“I think you just have to be creative with what you've got at home," he told BBC Breakfast.

“Keep fit, keep active and keep the structure of life as much as possible.

"The priority now for everyone is to stay safe, stay at home, protect everyone you can and do everything we can to help make this go away as quickly as possible.”

With the Games set to take place in 2021, the remainder of Whitlock’s year looks a lot different than he had expected.

"It's gutting. Every sporting event has been moved or cancelled so this will be a year of pretty much no competitions, which is difficult," he added.

"That does add into the build-up of Tokyo next year it will make it harder, but as an athlete you have to be adaptable.”

Meanwhile, the president of the local Tokyo organising committee said the new task force set up to reschedule the Olympics faced a big challenge to rearrange the Games.

The task force met for the first time on Thursday, two days after International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe agreed to postpone the Games.

"From now we take on an unprecedented challenge," Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori told the 30-strong group.

"We are going to have to cram into about six months what we achieved in seven years, so it will be difficult.

"To use rugby lingo, we now need to string phase after phase after phase. It will not be a game of packs. Making decisions seamlessly will be crucial."

The group, which Bach said will be called Here We Go, will consult with international sports federations and other government bodies to work out the best time in 2021 to host the event.

While a quick decision is important, Bach also said that the quality of the decision on timing was also key.

"There are many things that can't proceed if the new hosting period is not decided quickly," said Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto.

"We have to decide when the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics will be.

"Without that, there are a lot of things we simply cannot do."

He added that "the additional costs that come with this will probably be massive".

"We need to secure the facilities. Not only the venues but the athletes' village and training sites."

But the idea of a ‘cherry blossom’ Olympics next spring has been criticised by British hurdler Dai Greene.

"When do we get the chance to compete and qualify for a spring Games?” he said on Twitter. “This summer will be sparse at best. Someone have a word."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC