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Australian football star Catley feels Tokyo 2020 “unthinkable at this stage” due to COVID-19 restrictions

by ZwemZa on January 10th, 2021

Steph Catley described holding the Olympic Games this year in Tokyo as “unthinkable” ©Getty Images

Australian football star Steph Catley has described holding the Olympic Games this year in Tokyo as “unthinkable” due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions around the world.

Catley was part of the Australian women’s football team which booked a place at Tokyo 2020 after winning the playoff round of the Asian qualifying tournament in March.

The squad have not played or trained together since then, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic suspending sport across the world.

It is not known when the players will be able to assemble again to prepare for the postponed Tokyo 2020, now scheduled for July 23 to August 8.

Catley, who plays in England for Women’s Super League team Arsenal, claimed competing at the Games currently seemed “unthinkable”.

“It’s something that we all desperately want to happen, but it is hard to consider having that many different countries or people from different countries in the same place [at the Olympics],” Catley told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It seems like it would be unthinkable at this stage.

“As athletes we all want the Olympics so bad but, at the end of the day, it’s people’s lives.

“Health and safety comes first.

“It does seem a little bit like a fantasy.

“I think as well because we’ve been so distant from the national team.

“We haven’t had camps, we haven’t played together for so long.

“Hopefully by that point in the year we’re at a stage where we’re good to go for the Olympics and we can figure out a way to host them safely.

“Until then we just cross our fingers.”

There are currently strict COVID-19 rules in place in the United Kingdom as it experiences a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

So far, the UK has reported more than 3.01 million cases and more than 80,800 deaths.

This is thought to be due to a new variant of coronavirus, suggested to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible.

A number of other Australian team members play in England, including Caitlin Foord at Arsenal and star striker Sam Kerr at Chelsea.

Catley feels the number of players competing outside of Australia has made the situation more difficult.

“At this stage we’re banking on our Zoom meetings and crossing our fingers that things get better because it’s so hard with everyone in different places to get everyone in the same place,” she said.

“Especially with Australia – if you’re coming back into the country it’s difficult, so it’s hard to get our staff over to where we are.

“There’s just so many complicated things that have to be solved before we can get together, but we’ll make it work at some stage, and I honestly can’t wait.”

The 26-year-old Catley has played in defence for Australia 82 times, scoring three goals for the country.

She has featured at two FIFA Women’s World Cups and was a part of the team which finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Australia have competed at three Olympics in total, exiting at the group stage at Sydney 2000 and the quarter-finals at Athens 2004.

The next FIFA Women’s World Cup is due to be played in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Nancy Gillen | Inside the Games

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