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 Olympic Games which are due to begin in Tokyo on July 23rd, and Paralympic Games, which are scheduled to begin August 24th.
100 Days To Go Until The Paralympic Games
As of today, May 18th, there are officially 100 days until the start of the Paralympic Games. To mark the occasion, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has released a promotional video ahead of what is going to be, if nothing else, one of the most unusual Olympic Games ever.
Narrated by Irish Paralympic swimming medalist Ellen Keane, the video follows the theme of ‘coming together as one’ and ‘realising human potential’.
The long-awaited reunion of the world’s best para-athletes will commence on August 24th, with the swimming portion of the event happening between August 25th and September 3rd.
Many athletes, including Keane, will be vying for another podium finish during the rescheduled Games. Ellen won a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Keane also became the youngest ever Irish athlete to compete at a Paralympic Games in 2008 when she competed in the Beijing Paralympics. Tokyo will mark her 4th Games.
World Champion Cyclist Declares He Won’t Compete In Tokyo
As athletes around the world continue to attempt qualification for the Olympics, world champion cyclist Julian Alaphilippe has announced that he will not be competing in this Summer’s Games.
The 28-year-old would have been a firm favourite to win a medal in the road race after finishing fourth in the same event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Frenchman has said via his Instagram account that “It is a personal, well-considered decision”. He added:
“After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided, after agreeing with the national coach and my Deceuninck-Quick Step team, not to make myself available for selection for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics”
Alaphilippe is the current defending world titleholder in the road race after winning the event while competing at the UCI Road World Championships in Imola, Italy in 2020. His victory also marked the first time a Frenchman had won the race in 23 years.
He is, however, scheduled to race the Tour de France which begins in Brest, France on June 26th and it is thought that he will attempt to defend his world title later on in the year.
Britain Undecided on Pfizer Vaccine Offer
The British Government is said to still be deciding on whether to accept an offer of fast-tracked inoculation for athletes heading to the Games this summer.
Pfizer has made the offer to a number of Olympic Committees so far, with Brazil’s Olympic delegation recently accepting the offer and planning to begin vaccinating as soon as this week.
At present, UK residents aged 38 and over are being offered the vaccine. Minister for Sport, Nigel Huddleston, said while speaking to Sky News: “It’s sensitive because the philosophy has been based on age and that’s been proved to be the right thing.
“The biggest indicator is age is the biggest factor and of course Pfizer have offered for the Olympics and we’ve asked them about that.”
British Olympic Association chairman, Hugh Robertson, added: “The government’s vaccine rollout has been excellent and, coupled with the IOC’s donation of the Pfizer vaccine for athletes, means we are hopeful of getting all athletes vaccinated before they travel to Tokyo.
“It is important for this to happen soon, to assure our hosts in Tokyo that we are doing all we can to keep their population safe.”
Final Tokyo Coordination Meeting Taking Place This Week
The final Coordination Commission meeting is taking place virtually this week (May 19th) and will aim to finalise a number of key practical measures that will allow a safe and secure Games to be run.
The three-day meeting will take place between organisers Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who have insisted that the Games will take place as planned.
The two bodies have already made steps to mitigate risk for residents of Japan and participants during the Games, including creating ‘playbooks’ which are detailed guides for how the event will be held.
Featuring in the meeting will be Coordination Commission chair John Coates, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, and Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tamayo Marukawa.