Tokyo 2020: Scots welcome Olympic Games postponement

A woman wearing a protective mask walking in front of Olympic rings at the Olympics Museum in Tokyo
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were due to take placed from 24 July to 9 August

Former world champion Liz McColgan says postponing the Tokyo Olympics is the "right decision" but one which "should have been made earlier".

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have been moved to next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The events, due to begin on 24 July, will now take place "no later than summer 2021".

The IOC had given itself a deadline of four weeks to consider delaying the Games but there had been mounting pressure from a host of Olympic committees and athletes demanding a quicker decision.

Tokyo holds a special place in the heart of McColgan and she was hoping to see her daughter Eilish compete in the city she ran to 10,000m gold at the 1991 World Championships.

But the 55-year-old Olympic silver medallist from 1988 doesn't mind having to wait the extra year.

"It's the right decision," she told BBC Scotland. "People's health and well-being must always come before sport. But it's a decision that should have been made earlier."

'Time to re-set properly'

Sprinter Zoey Clark, who won silver as part of Great Britain's 4x400m relay team at last year's European Indoor Championships agrees there has been an unnecessary delay.

"Obviously it's devastating to know that something we're trained so hard for is going to be postponed but in the current situation it was definitely the right call to make," said the 25-year-old.

Great Britain's silver medal-winning 4x400m women's relay team at the 2019 European Indoor Championships
Scots Eilidh Doyle (left) and Clark (second from left) helped Great Britain win European indoor silver

"I'm glad that we haven't had to wait four weeks that we might have had to, to find out. It would've been better if they had made it sooner.

"The goal's still there but it's further away so it just takes a little bit of pressure off. If it was held around the same time of year as it was meant to be this year, that would be best. It gives you time to reset properly. That's when we tend to peak - during summer time."

'It's sad that it's come about this way'

Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean
Neil Fachie and pilot Craig MacLean won two gold medals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Cyclist Neil Fachie is confident he will still be in "great shape" next year when the Paralympics are rescheduled.

"The truth is I'm not getting any younger," said the 36-year-old, who has three Paralympic medals from 2012 and 2016. "I'd happily race tomorrow and get it done and stay ahead of the opposition. Now they've got much more time to try and catch me up.

"I think I'll still be in great shape come next year but you never know.

"I've been waiting for four years for an opportunity to compete so it's sad that it's come about this way but it's probably the right decision.

"Is the qualification period going open up again for the Games so maybe we need to qualify our place again? What will it look like for selection for the team as a whole?"

Former British Olympic Association chairman Sir Craig Reedie is still a member of the International Olympic Committee and was previously vice-chair of the IOC.

He chaired the Tokyo evaluation commission seven years ago and believes the decision to postpone became "inevitable".

Rescheduled Games could be a 'blessing'

"My reaction is mixed," he said. "I'm delighted the decision has been taken as we now operate with a degree of certainty. I'm happy for two groups of athletes - those athletes who were under severe pressure to try to train in the impossible conditions we find ourselves in with the coronavirus issues," said the 78-year-old.

"And also those athletes who will be delighted the Games are going to go ahead, because the biggest sport in the world could be a blessing for many people around the world when it does actually take place.

Sir Craig Reedie
Reedie became IOC vice-chairman in 2012

"I'm sorry for the Tokyo organising committee as I have a pretty clear idea of the amount of work they have done and the investments made. All of that is now going to be have to be revised to see if we can fit the Games in Tokyo, with all the Tokyo logistical problems, into a very complicated international sports calendar.

"Let's have a look at what is in place for 2020, and how you then project that forward and change all that. First of all is accommodation in Japan. You need a village for athletes, you need space for coaches and support staff. The IOC's requirement is around 45,000 hotel rooms for everybody who has to go to the Games. There is a huge media attendance, there are the broadcasters of the world.

"Any major sports organisation - and IOC is one of the biggest - is subject to open and regular criticism and they're probably fairly used to that. Some athletes will be losers, because some who would have qualified under the current rules may not qualify under the adjusted qualifying regulations, which the international federations will have to put in place. Some may be affected by the coronavirus for much longer than anybody would hope, therefore their training time would be reduced."

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