The coronavirus has brought global sport to a virtual standstill in recent weeks, with major events being postponed or cancelled as cases grow internationally.
Yet Tokyo Olympics organisers have said the Games, scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9, will go ahead as planned despite the rapid spread of the virus.
Like many Olympians around the globe, Irish hockey players, are tired of the double dose of stress.
Living amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic produces enough worry on its own. Add in the daunting task of preparing for an Olympic team, even though COVID-19 social distancing guidance makes proper training all but impossible for many athletes, and anxiety levels are bound to rise even higher.
Irish women’s team Captain frustrated
Irish women’s team Captain Katie Mulan is frustrated. Under normal circumstances, she’d be in South Africa, training in Durban. But that ‘Tour of South Africa’ had to be called off. So she’s holed up back at her home.
“Life is more important than any hockey game or training camp. We have to do what is best to protect our communities. Katie wrote on her blog on BBC.
“We all need to be responsible and we all need to take the current situation seriously.” she said.
“As a squad we are used to a strict schedule and lots of training together, so it is different at the moment because we can’t really get onto a pitch, meaning we have a lot of self-driven training.
“Everyone is getting out and doing a lot of running and most of us have gathered little bits of equipment to set up a gym at home. For now it’s down to each player to take individual responsibility. With such a motivated group, this isn’t a problem for us.
“The situation is uncertain and we await more information, like many athletes. Our coach, Sean Dancer, has made it clear that our health and wellbeing – and that of our family and friends – is what matters most.” Katie said.
Irish men’s team captain wants fair play
Ireland men’s hockey captain David Harte too joined the growing list of athletes and other stakeholders to back the idea of postponing the Tokyo Olympics until later in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In calling for a postponement, Harte told an Irish daily (Belfast Telegrah):
“There’s 47% of places at the Olympics that are still up in the air and that was a huge talking point (in the conference call) and an obvious concern for athletes and their representatives from around the world.
“If you look at it in a fair way – which you would hope is what the Olympics stands for – you want an equal playing field for all. Those suffering most from a lockdown have a disadvantage right now compared to athletes who can freely train in their countries.
“I really hope a postponement would be in place to allow proper qualification to take place, to give peace of mind and mental wellness to those still looking to qualify and those who have already qualified.”
Katie and Davids comment, harsh at is it, reflects the growing anger athletes are feeling over the IOC’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier today, Canada and Australia Olympic and Paralympic committee said they would not be sending athletes to the Tokyo Olympics if the Games went ahead as scheduled this year as pressure on organizers to postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic reached fever pitch on Monday.