Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee recently took to social media to respond to several messages she’d received suggesting for her to speak out against the Tokyo Olympic Games being held amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Ikee, a 2016 Olympian, was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2019, and triumphantly fought her way back to qualify for the 2021 Games at the Japanese Trials in early April.
In a series of tweets, Ikee acknowledged that it’s natural for many people to be calling for the Olympics to be cancelled, but remained adamant that she would compete if the event is held.
“Of course, we athletes have been working hard to compete in the Olympics, but I think it is natural that there are many voices calling for the cancellation of the Olympics due to this corona disaster,” wrote Ikee, via translation. “I and other athletes will accept what has been decided, with or without the Olympics, and of course I will do my best if I do it, and if not, I will do my best for the next one.”
The 2018 Pan Pacific Championship gold medalist believes it’s simply not fair to put pressure on the athletes over the decision of whether or not to hold the Games.
“I share your desire to emerge from this darkness as quickly as possible, but to put that burden on the shoulders of individual athletes is very tough.”
The 20-year-old Ikee also noted her feelings regarding the possibility of contracting COVID-19 and the implications given her health issues.
“I have a chronic illness, and whether the games are held or not, I live every day with the anxiety of possibly (being infected with the coronavirus and) becoming seriously ill,” she said.
“Myself and other athletes will accept what happens, whether the Olympics take place or not. And, of course, I will work my hardest if it goes forward. If it doesn’t, I’ll do my best for the next one.”
— 池江 璃花子 (@rikakoikee) May 7, 2021
Ikee was victorious in four events at the Japanese Olympic Trials in April, with her performances in the women’s 100 fly and 100 free earning her a spot on the country’s Olympic team for both the 400 free and medley relays.