With the Olympic Games set to kick off at the end of July, preparations for the Games are beginning in all sports, not just in swimming. In this series, SwimSwam looks at some of the leading news from outside of swimming as athletes around the world continue to prepare and qualify for the rescheduled Games which are due to begin in Tokyo on July 23rd.
Tensions Over Games Rising as 60% of Japanese People Want to Cancel
Political tensions are continuing to rise in Japan and have been fuelled further by a recent survey that has revealed roughly 60% of Japanese people want to see the games cancelled.
The survey was held by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun from May 7th – 9th and showed that 59% wanted the Games cancelled while 39% agreed they should be held.
Asian media also revealed this week that Japan’s national ‘state of emergency’ has been extended to May 31st, rather than ending today, May 11th, as previously planned.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga admitted that the decision had been taken in order to fight the mass wave of coronavirus infections that the country is currently facing.
While speaking to Nikkei Asia on the Olympic Games, Suga said: “It is possible to hold a safe and secure event while protecting the lives and health of our citizens through thorough measures.”
Suga also announced that Pfizer, one of the largest suppliers of the vaccine worldwide, has offered to donate vaccines to athletes participating in the games.
Additionally, last week’s report detailed how an online petition titled ‘Stop Tokyo Olympics’ had been set up by notable Japanese attorney and politician Kenji Utsunomiya. As of Monday morning, the petition has now received 321,543 signatures.
The latest statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the games has come from Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO, who spoke in depth about the situation on Friday 7th. He said:
“It’s not whether we will have an Olympics or not; it’s how those individual risks within that framework are being managed.
“It is our hope that the Olympics can occur; many other events – and we’ve seen sporting events and leagues – run very safely over the last six months without spectators, with special bubbles and arrangements for athletes and for others, footballers and many, many others.
“It is a complex event; there are so many different events, there are so many different delegations, it is a test of logistics, it is a test of risk management, and we have confidence that the International Olympic Committee and the host city Tokyo, and the Government of Japan, will make the right decisions regarding how best to manage the risks, and are working extremely hard right now to ensure that those risks are well managed.”
Canadian Boxer Challenging IOC, Accusations of Sexism
Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold has mounted legal action against the IOC and has accused them of being ‘discriminatory against women’.
The flyweight boxer, who has a Commonwealth bronze medal and two Pan American titles to her name, was aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Games this month – before the qualifying event was cancelled.
As an alternative measure, the IOC is now referring back to three events held between 2018 and 2019 to make Olympic selections – a time when Bujold was pregnant and on maternity leave.
While speaking to BBC Sport, she said: “This was supposed to be an equal Games.
“It’s unfortunate, especially with the messaging that’s going on right now around the Olympics working towards equality. You know, female equality.
“If we had known that these events were qualifying events back then, then we would have no issue here. That would have been my decision to have a child at that point.”
Bujold is taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to request that the qualification process be paused immediately until her case can be resolved.
Naomi Osaka Says She is ‘Unsure’ Whether Games Should Go Ahead
Tennis ace Naomi Osaka has given an athlete’s point-of-view on the fate of this summer’s games, saying she is “unsure” whether the event should go ahead.
While speaking to the BBC, the world number two – who would be making her Olympic debut in Tokyo – said that the rising number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan is a “really big cause for concern”.
She added: “I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.
NFL Star DK Metcalf Shoots For Olympic Trials Spot in 100m
Seattle Seahawks Star DK Metcalf raced the 100m at the Golden Games last weekend where he was hoping to secure a spot at next month’s U.S Olympic Trials.
Ultimately, Metcalf missed out on a qualification spot and finished 9th in his heat with a time of 10.37 seconds.
Of his performance, Metcalf told local media: “To test my speed up against world-class athletes … just having the opportunity to run against these guys was a blessing.
“They do this for a living. This is very different from football speed.”
Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard on Brink of Making History
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has edged closed to becoming to first-ever transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games.
The 43-year-old, who is yet unselected for the games, has been eligible to compete at an Olympic Games since 2015 – when the IOC changed their guidelines about the inclusion of transgender athletes.
At present, the Super-Heavyweight is ranked #17 in the world, and according to the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) is “very likely” to be “allocated an international federation quota spot for Tokyo 2020”.
Formal selections will be made in June.