FINALLY, the back and forth as to whether to host or postpone the 2020 Summer Olympic Games dubbed “Tokyo 2020” has hit the “Red Lights”. On Tuesday 24th March 2020 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took the decision to postpone the Games until 2021.
With 438, 518 confirmed cases of COVID -19 and 19,656 deaths as of Wednesday 25th March, several countries made their voices heard by asking the organizers and the Japanese government to postpone this year’s Games.
Saint Lucia was no exception as a number of athletes who were either preparing or had their eyes set for qualification had their Olympic dreams shattered. Affected athletes from the island include Sandisha Antoine (Triple Jump); Albert Reynolds (Javelin), Levern Spencer, Jeanelle Scheper (High Jump) and Julien Alfred (Sprinter).
The VOICE spoke to Levern Spencer, Saint Lucia’s most decorated athlete who is currently in Europe who expressed, “I knew that the decision was coming. It’s unfortunate because all of my preparation and sacrifices were geared towards Tokyo 2020, but it has its positives as well so we will see. In the meantime, I am just trying to stay positive.”
In terms of preparation level Spencer said, “It’s difficult to give a percentage but I will say as of now 75% because I had an important training camp to attend and a few months of training left before the Games.”
According to Spencer, “The training camp would have taken place in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, Spain.”
The VOICE also spoke to the President of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc Fortuna Belrose about the postponement.
“COVID -19 came from nowhere to alert us no matter how much we prepare, if it is not the Lord’s will, it will not happen.”
She said, “We have invested in the athletes to give them the best chance of qualifying for the Games. Every athlete has dreams and aspirations and we will work with those who are committed to realizing their goals that are consistent with our organization.”
Belrose added, “We will certainly do it again if we have to. We encourage them to work hard and to continue to prepare.”
The VOICE also spoke to the President of the Saint Lucia Athletic Association (SLAA) Cornelius Breen about the postponement. Breen said, “This was a better decision. The number of COVID -19 cases keep rising. No resolution in sight yet.”
He continued, “A number of countries were not willing to have their athletes attend the Games thus this would reduce the quality of the Games in Tokyo.”
Meanwhile, it was only last week the SLAA President supported the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) and the Bermuda Athletics Association (BAA) in postponing the Carifta Games in Hamilton, Bermuda over the Easter weekend against the backdrop of the rapidly evolving situation with regard to COVID -19 across the globe.
Regarding the Carifta Games he said he was “disappointed” but added “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. I support the NACAC executive and the Bermuda Athletics Association in this decision.”