COVID-19: San Diegan Olympians React to Tokyo 2020 Uncertainty

This article is a part of our news series on the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, click here.

The Tokyo Olympics organizers announced on Tuesday, April 14 that they do not have a “Plan B” for the event in the chance that it requires further postponement due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While local San Diego Olympians and officials collectively try their best to work around the pandemic, the severity of the outbreak  has left many to question if 15 months is enough time to realistically hold the Olympics.

On March 24, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese officials decided to postpone the Olympics and Paralympics by one year, effectively moving the start and end dates to July 23, 2021, and August 24, 2021, respectively.

Masa Takaya, the spokesman for the Tokyo Olympics, spoke to journalists on a teleconference call. “We don’t have a B Plan,” Takaya said. “Tokyo 2020 and all concerned parties now are doing their very best effort to deliver the games next year.”

In the event that the games are fully canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic next year, millions of athletes’ efforts may be deemed fruitless. SeveralSan Diego-based Olympians expressed their optimism about the uncertainty of the event.

Brittney Reese: 3-Time Olympic Long Jumper; 2012 Gold Medalist, 2016 Silver Medalist

“I’m only taking the positives out of this situation,” Reese said in an Instagram post. “More time in the lab = a stronger and faster BEAST!!!”

Nicole Ahsinger: Trampoline Gymnastics Olympian

“It’s hard to find out it’s going to be in 2021,” Ahsinger said in an interview with NBC 7. “Also, it’s just another year I get to train harder. Even though it’s another year, it’s still just a year.

Darrell Hill: Olympic Shot Putter

“Tokyo 2021? Delay is NOT Denial,” Hill said on Instagram.“An additional 365+ days to prepare? This one must be special. Take care of yourselves in the meantime. Lord please place a healing hand over our world.”

Lex Gillette: 4-Time Paralympic Long Jumper; 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 Silver Medalist

“I know that this news causes different reactions from athlete to athlete and it’s tough news, but for me, the vision still burns brighter than ever and that’s what keeps me going,” Gillette said in a Tweet.

Al Joyner: Olympian, 1984 Triple Jump Gold Medalist; USA Track & Field Coach

“See you in the summer of 2021 in Tokyo,” Joyner said on Instagram. “SAME PLACE, SAME DREAM, SAME DESIRES, JUST A YEAR LATER. But a year GREATER.”

Sakura Kokumai: Team USA Karate Athlete

Kokumai, a first-generation Japanese-American athlete who planned to make her Olympic debut in the Tokyo 2020 games, expressed her disappointment in the postponement of the event. 

“The dates are out,” Kokumai said on Instagram. “Time to reset and focus. Just another year to be faster and stronger. I’ll spend this next year evolving,” she added in Japanese at the end of her caption.

With only 15 months left before the event is scheduled to happen, it remains in question if the Olympic organizers and athletes’ efforts are going to be fruitful for the postponed Tokyo 2020 games.