With speculation swirling that the 2020 Olympics are at risk of cancellation over the coronavirus outbreak, international stars Sarah Sjostrom, Katinka Hosszu and Chad le Clos commented on the situation in an interview with The Associated Press.
At a recent Energy Standard training camp workout in Italy – to which Hosszu, who is coaching herself to Tokyo, was an invited guest – the trio expressed concern at the prospect.
“For the athletes the best (solution) is just to focus on your preparation. … I see the news, but in my mind I’m prepared until it’s on. So I have to be ready,” Hosszu said. “I really can’t even imagine having the Olympics canceled. For athletes, it’s a nightmare… That’s our life — preparing for the biggest event in swimming.”
Tuesday, Canadian Olympic swimmer and International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said that in the case the virus does not get under control, a full cancelation of the Games is more likely than a postponement.
“Honestly there is no really good option if it’s canceled,” Hosszú added. “Postponing is definitely better than altogether cancel.”
Le Clos told the AP that he is a “germaphobe” and will be careful, but added that a postponement could actually be a positive.
“We have to just not shake too many hands, not touch too much stuff,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing that’s happened. Hopefully it can get cured soon and we’re going to proceed to the Olympics.”
“Obviously I don’t want it to be canceled, but if it gets canceled I will train another six months or another year,” Le Clos said. “My approach is not just to Tokyo, I’m looking beyond that.”
Sjostrom chimed it that she is also concerned – she was slated to swim at the City of Milan Trophy this weekend, which was canceled due to the outbreak.
“Of course, it’s definitely on my mind,” Sjöström said. “We are reminded about it every day. I read the news. It’s a bit scary.
“People are traveling so much, even me, so that’s why the virus is spreading,” she added. “I hope we can calm it down very, very soon.”
Energy Standard head coach James Gibson said that he trusted that “the powers that be” to handle the situation. In the coming days, though, he has to decide if the team should head back to Turkey.
“We have an exit strategy. The swimmers themselves are aware what’s going on but that doesn’t change your training,” Gibson said. “You still go train as if you’re going to go and become an Olympic champion. You don’t let go of that.”
As of Wednesday night, according to coronatracker.com, there were over 82,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally – including 453 in Italy – with 2,800 deaths.