Frustration but it's the right decision - Rower Doyle on Tokyo postponement

Philip Doyle (right) and double sculls partner Ronan Byrne (left) in action last season
Philip Doyle (right) and double sculls partner Ronan Byrne (left) are having to stay indoors at their base in Cork as training is put on hold

Ireland rower Philip Doyle has admitted to feeling a sense of grief following the postponement of the 2020 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday confirmed the Tokyo Games would be pushed back to "no later than summer 2021" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on BBC Sport NI's Olympic forum podcast, Doyle said the postponement had stirred a "mixed bag of emotions" among the Irish rowers.

"We've been anticipating this for a number of weeks and were just waiting for official confirmation," he said.

"I could see from a few weeks back that this was the only way it could have gone. It was the only safe decision for the International Olympic Committee to make.

"I think the frustration for us was that it took so long to get to this point. At the moment, it's just reorganising ourselves and almost like grieving is how a lot of us see it."

Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle secured silver for Ireland at the World Championships in Linz in September
Byrne and Doyle secured silver for Ireland at the World Championships in Linz last September

Linz heroics booked Irish boat's Tokyo berth

Banbridge native Doyle secured his Olympic spot by winning his double sculls semi-final at the World Championships alongside Cork's Ronan Byrne in August, with the duo eventually picking up a silver medal.

Now though, 27-year-old Doyle - who is isolating in his rented home in Cork, where he had been training - admits the loss of potentially the biggest year in his sporting career is a heavy blow.

"It's the loss of a year and a season and a big event, and a lot of potential for a lot of our athletes," he explained.

"It's the loss of a year of our lives who had a lot of things on hold for the Games.

"It's a mixed bag of emotions, but there's relief that it's official.

'This is bigger than everyone'

A trained physician as well as an Olympic hopeful, Doyle also called for people to show "camaraderie and selflessness" by staying at home to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

The county Down man said he had seen people on social media claiming that "advice does not apply to them".

"My advice would be that you're not above it," he said.

"This is something that is bigger than everyone. We all just need to muck in and show a real sense of camaraderie and selflessness over the next few months and just take it on the chin.

"This is what needs to be done, we can't be foolish or reckless.

"This isn't the time to be cheeky and try to get away with it and try to sneak in the back door, this is the time to fall in line and help your fellow mankind and womankind alike."

Listen to the full Olympic forum podcast as BBC Sport NI's Nigel Ringland is joined by Doyle, Ireland hockey goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran and archer Patrick Huston

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