Rikako Ikee Responds To Messages Calling For Tokyo Olympic Cancellation

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.”

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.

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1 year ago

Why does Japan have such a low vaccination rate among their general population when the Olympics are coming soon? It makes no sense.

Last edited 1 year ago by SwimMomof2
Marlene price
1 year ago

I hope they have olympics and I hope she wins a gold medal

1 year ago

Swimmers who love swimming can swim without Olympics and competition and be satisfied.

He said what?
1 year ago

This is bringing me back to 1980 and I don’t mean in a good way. Athletes were being grilled by the press. Do you think we should go? Do you think we should NOT go? People arguing over whether to stay put or not. This is out of the athlete’s hands. Although the scenarios between 1980 and 2020/2021 are completely different, I can’t help but feel empathy for the athletes as they prepare for their time in the sun…..or not. Whether they say it or not, this must be playing havoc with their minds. Many of the athletes in 1980 never recovered emotionally and mentally. Now we are forced to the potentiality of a repeat.

Reply to  He said what?
1 year ago

Maybe but these are two very different scenarios. That was a diplomatic protest of an invasion. These Olympic Games could cause a dangerous spread of variants to every corner of the globe. I think even athletes that have worked incredibly hard and sacrificed so much, recognize the severity of the situation.

Breaking Bad News
1 year ago
Fresh Cuts
Reply to  Breaking Bad News
1 year ago

Oh my goodness! We have to cancel the Olympics, Japanese news says so. This is so scary.

xoxo stay safe and triple mask

1 year ago

You have to wonder if she decided on her own to make these posts or it was the Olympic PR machine at work. If I was Caleb and the games were being held in Florida I’d be like show me the cheddar bro and I’ll pimp your Olympic Games for you. So I’d ask for a 100k of cheddar or 500,000 doge or whatever and they could write up what they want and I’d post it.

1 year ago

Intelligent and thoughtful response…

Reply to  njones
1 year ago

Super mature and understanding of the severity of the global crisis, while also acknowledging the personal desire to compete. Honestly, I don’t think you would get this thoughtful of a response from a lot of American swimmers or coaches…

Reply to  Tswim
1 year ago

You would from most of the elite ones. They all get media training to sound just as wishy-washy as this – that’s why their interviews are so boring. They’re trained to elicit exactly the response you’re describing here. That’s their goal.

If you’re referring to just the regular coach/athlete…sure probably not. I’m sure the average coach/athlete in Japan has stronger opinions than this.

Reply to  swimapologist
1 year ago

As it was said in the article “it’s simply not fair to put pressure on the athletes over the decision of whether or not to hold the Games.” And such an interview is not a fair thing to do.
Even without pandemic there are plenty of countries people of which do not want to host Olympics. Everybody have it’s own view on the issue and the usage of famous athletes as their speaking trumpet is simply wrong.

Reply to  Yozhik
1 year ago

A reasonable yozhik comment happening in my life time? Color me surprised

Reply to  Anonymoose
1 year ago

Don’t you think you are sounding condescending? Like you are superior. It doesn’t make you look good. Neither you nor me need this. Btw to be a supremacist and especially white one is not very popular nowadays 😀

Reply to  swimapologist
1 year ago

I just remember being disappointed in athletes and coaches that were making a lot of noise about NCAA eligibility just weeks into a frightening pandemic. I get it- it was frustrating and disappointing, but “Kim, there are people dying.”

Our think it is somewhat unique to our country and our swimming community is a part of the problem too. We did a terrible job of locking down which caused hundreds of thousands of probably preventable deaths. Most other developed nations didn’t have the devastating number of deaths that we did.

Karl Hallesy
Reply to  Tswim
1 year ago

I disagree. American swimmers and coaches are all echoing the same response. If the games are held great they say and they will do their best. If they are not held great they will accept the decision and train for the next games. Covid has been a great lesson for America and it has made us humble and realize the importance of decisions of life and death. So whatever Japan chooses we will respect and honor as America respects and loves the Japanese! And what a great response by Rikako!

USA 4x100 Medley Gold Medel 2021
1 year ago

If the games are cancelled this summer we live in a world of sheep


I’d be more convinced if you could spell medal correctly.

Curious swimmer
Reply to  Rocket
1 year ago

I got you with the new name. “GB 4×100 Medley Gold Medal 2022”. Please respect the joke… and i changed it to GB just for the lols. I’d love to have the games this year, but if they get cancelled, That’s it, no sheep or anything, it is just not safe enough to be held.


People who accuse others of being “sheep,” are mindlessly echoing a cliche that has been vastly overused. Which is ironic.

Reply to  AJTHOMAS
1 year ago

Shhhh don’t confuse the hogs

Reply to  AJTHOMAS
1 year ago

You disagree with my narrative – so I am going to mindlessly call you a sheep. It’s sad that this is what we have resorted to.


we already do!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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