The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were officially postponed earlier this week by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a result of the ongoing spread of the COVIF-19 virus. The announcement was met with a general chorus of agreement from many would-be 2020 Olympians. International swimming stars Chad le Clos, Sarah Sjostrom, Lily King were among those who publicly backed the decision.
One athlete who was also in agreement with the postponement, but with a much different take on the matter is retired Russian gymnast and two-time Olympic Champion, Svetlana Khorkina. Khorkina took gold on the uneven bars in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. Saying that “in the current situation of uncertainty caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, this decision serves the interests of athletes, coaches, and spectators”, Khorkina also acknowledges that the “health and safety of people are the top priority for everyone.”
Oleg Matysin, Russia’s Sport Minister echoed Khorkina’s support, saying “we respect the decision by the IOC and the Government of Japan to postpone the Tokyo Olympics.”
She went on, however, to claim that the cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 is a form of punishment sent from God to the sporting community. Specifically, she believes that the postponement is a punishment from God for the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2019 banning of Russia from all international sporting competitions for the next four years which would include the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I think this all happened because they shouldn’t have offended Russia, including our athletes,” said Khorkina. “There is a reason why there is a line in our national anthem that says our land is protected by the Lord.”
Khorkina’s comments come holding much weight in the Russian sporting community as she is widely regarded as one of the most successful gymnasts in Russian history. While Russia’s ban will still be in effect come the 2021 version of the Olympics, Russian athletes will still be permitted to compete as unattached athletes if they meet certain other guidelines.