Coronavirus pandemic: COVID-19 will not deter athletes from competing at Tokyo Olympics 2020, says hockey champion Jamie Dwyer

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Olympic qualifying and put the whole Games in doubt but most athletes would be prepared to make big compromises to compete at Tokyo, Australia’s field hockey gold medallist Jamie Dwyer has said

Reuters March 20, 2020 13:48:26 IST
Coronavirus pandemic: COVID-19 will not deter athletes from competing at Tokyo Olympics 2020, says hockey champion Jamie Dwyer

Melbourne: The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Olympic qualifying and put the whole Games in doubt but most athletes would be prepared to make big compromises to compete at Tokyo, Australia’s field hockey gold medallist Jamie Dwyer has told Reuters.

 <span class=Coronavirus pandemic COVID19 will not deter athletes from competing at Tokyo Olympics 2020 says hockey champion Jamie Dwyer" width="380" height="285" />

Aussie hockey legend Jamie Dwyer. Image: Wikipedia commons

The outbreak has infected over 242,000 people and killed nearly 10,000, bringing global sport to a virtual standstill and prompting calls for the 24 July - 9 August Olympics to be cancelled or postponed.

Four-times Olympian Dwyer, however, said denying athletes the chance to compete at the Games was a decision that should not be taken lightly.

“The Olympics aren’t until the end of July, so there’s still a long time to go before we get to cancelling or making plan B,” the 41-year-old Queenslander said in an interview.

“It’s every four years. It’s not like we get this shot every year or two.”

A member of the Athletes’ Commission of the Australian Olympic Committee, Dwyer says he has not heard concerns about the coronavirus from any aspiring Olympians Down Under.

Most would gladly sign up for Tokyo, he added, even if spectators were banned or some nations were blocked from participating due to the coronavirus .

“If I had a choice between playing at the Olympics with no crowd or not going at all, I’d take no crowds any day,” said Dwyer, who won men’s hockey gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and bronze medals at Beijing in 2008 and London four years later.

He also competed at the 2016 Games in Rio.

“I know in Australia, the majority would take that option, too.

“I’m 100% sure, whether you’re a hockey player a swimmer or whatever, you’d take that opportunity to go.

“How big are the compromises? If one country can’t come, or even 10 countries can’t come, it’s a shame but it’s not the end of the world.

“If 50% can’t come, well, yeah, you’ve probably got a bit of a problem.”

Follow LIVE updates on coronavirus pandemic here

The immediate problem facing organisers is qualifying, with athletes struggling to train, travel or compete.

Tokyo is set to host some 11,000 athletes and almost 60% have already earned their spot. The remainder will clinch their places through modified qualifiers or previous performances based on ranking.

“Athletes do tend to roll with the punches, but I think qualifiers are the biggest issue — how are they going to qualify over the next three months?” said Dwyer.

“All of these events are getting shut down.

“The lack of competition is quite difficult and a distraction but it’s the same for every country at the moment.”

In his AOC capacity, Dwyer said he would support any athlete who decided to skip the Games for health concerns but would encourage them not to rush into such a decision.

“If they were that scared and didn’t want to go, that’s up to the athlete. But you don’t want to make that (decision) now,” he said.

“You want to make that decision a couple of days before the team heads off to the Olympics if you decide you’re not going to go.”

Running a hockey equipment company under his “JDH” brand, Dwyer is seeing first-hand how the coronavirus is affecting the sports business, with major competitions postponed or scrapped as part of containment efforts.

Cancelling the Olympics would mean another economic hit for an industry already suffering.

“What about the thousands of jobs, the billions of dollars spent?” he asked.

“I know retailers all round the world are really hurting and the small businesses, like myself.

“It’s pretty tough I guess when there’s no sport.”

Updated Date:

also read

Mumbai reports over 500 daily COVID-19 cases for first time since 15 July; BMC declares containment zone
India

Mumbai reports over 500 daily COVID-19 cases for first time since 15 July; BMC declares containment zone

On 15 July, the financial capital of the country had logged 545 COVID-19 cases. But after that its daily case count remained below 500 and even went under 190 by mid-August.

India registers 30,773 new COVID cases, 309 fresh fatalities; daily positivity rate at 1.97%
India

India registers 30,773 new COVID cases, 309 fresh fatalities; daily positivity rate at 1.97%

Of the total 309 new deaths, 143 have been reported from Kerala alone

How heavy internet usage and poor digital literacy made India world’s top source of misinformation on COVID-19
India

How heavy internet usage and poor digital literacy made India world’s top source of misinformation on COVID-19

An international study showed that India (15.94 percent), the US (9.74 percent), Brazil (8.57 percent) and Spain (8.03 percent) are the four most misinformation-affected countries