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Mar 29 20

Tokyo organisers eye July 2021 for delayed Olympics – reports

by ZwemZa

The Tokyo Stadium, one of the proposed stadiums for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, is seen in this computer-generated handout image provided by the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee. Reuters

Tokyo Olympics organisers are eyeing next July as a start date for the postponed Games, Japanese media reported on Sunday, following the historic decision to delay the event due to the coronavirus.

Given the ongoing pandemic and need for preparation time, the most likely plan would be for the Games to begin on 23 July 2021, public broadcaster NHK said, citing sources within the organising panel.

It came after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike raised the idea on Friday of moving the event to a less hot and humid time of year.

She argued that this would make marathons and other races easier to endure, meaning they could be held in the capital instead of in northern Sapporo city, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had decided to move them.

The Tokyo 2020 team led by Yoshiro Mori is currently discussing possible dates with the IOC, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

On Saturday, Mori told a Japanese TV station that “some kind of conclusion” would be reached within a week.

The Olympics were scheduled to open on 24 July this year with the Paralympics on 25 August, but Japan announced last week it had secured agreement from the IOC to postpone the Games – a decision unprecedented in peacetime.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they would be held in around a year instead as a testament to humanity’s victory over the pandemic.

The decision had been seen to open options for Tokyo, with IOC chief Thomas Bach saying that “all the options are on the table” and rescheduling “is not restricted just to the summer months”.

Meanwhile, NHK said the Olympic flame would be displayed for a month at the J-Village sports complex in Fukushima, which was used as a base camp for thousands of relief workers in radiation protection suits during the 2011 nuclear disaster.

AFP

Mar 29 20

‘Super Quick’ Lewis Clareburt beached, but delay helps

by ZwemZa

Beached for at least the next month, Lewis Clareburt bought a PlayStation, took delivery of a rowing machine and weights, and settled in for lockdown with five housemates including his parents.

New Zealand’s main swimming medal prospect at the Tokyo Olympics had his last plunge into the water at Wellington’s Kilbirnie Pool on Tuesday, before the Games postponement was confirmed then the country shut its doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“At the moment I’m pretty chilled. It’s quite nice being out of the pool for a bit. You train so much… but I think I’ll start to go crazy soon,” Clareburt told Stuff as he contemplated the delay of his first Olympics until a late-April to August window in 2021.

Bronze medallist Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand after the men's 400m medley final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Bronze medallist Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand after the men’s 400m medley final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. GETTY IMAGES

He turns 21 in July, so time is certainly on Clareburt’s side. That’s why the disappointment of not being at Tokyo Aquatics Centre for the 400m individual medley heats on July 25, the scheduled opening day of competition, became excitement at the gains he could make for next year.

“I’m still growing and I don’t think I’ve hit my peak and there’s still a lot of development to go. So this buys me another year and the chance to get faster and get myself on the podium.

“Some of the other guys in my event are a little bit older and on the way out. Or they’re not improving as much, or at all. It might be quite good for me to have another year.

“It’s pretty crappy because it’s my first Olympics and I wanted to go and represent New Zealand this year. But it’s all right, you can’t do much about it.”

Are you serious? New Zealand's Lewis Clareburt can't quite believe he's won bronze at the world championships at age 20.

Are you serious? New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt can’t quite believe he’s won bronze at the world championships at age 20. AP

​Clareburt’s Irish coach, Gary Hollywood, has always maintained 2024 would be his charge’s peak year.

Still, Clareburt already has a world championships bronze medal from last August, the same colour he won as an 18-year-old at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and was excited about carving through the water at next week’s national trials, since postponed.

His 400m IM swim of 4min 12.07sec in South Korea eight months ago lopped more than 2sec off his personal best and national record, and qualified him for Tokyo where a time of well under 4:10 will be required to be a medal hope.New Zealand's Lewis Clareburt swam the race of his life to win bronze in the 400m medley at last year's world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt swam the race of his life to win bronze in the 400m medley at last year’s world championships in Gwangju, South Korea. AP

“I’ve been swimming super quick [recently] which sort of sucks,” Clareburt said.

The next month will comfortably be the longest period he spends out of the water until the Olympics, and the novelty of dry land will soon wear off.

Clareburt’s lockdown bubble at the Roseneath home of his parents David and Robyn also includes older sister Amelia, his uncle and a newly-arrived Australian swim coach who is staying with the family.The men's 400m medley podium at the 2019 world championships: gold to Japan's Daiya Seto, centre, silver to Jay Litherland (US), left, and bronze to New Zealand's Lewis Clareburt.

The men’s 400m medley podium at the 2019 world championships: gold to Japan’s Daiya Seto, centre, silver to Jay Litherland (US), left, and bronze to New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt. AP

The PlayStation was an essential purchase last week, and the rowing machine and weights delivered by his funding master High Performance Sport NZ were gratefully received, too.

“I think we’re going to drive each other crazy but we’ll try to keep ourselves busy,” Clareburt said with a laugh.

“I’m getting a programme from my strength and conditioning coach… and a bit of cardio, running up and down my driveway.”

And the delay could be a sign, too. If the rescheduled Olympics are held before July next year, Clareburt will be 21, the same age Danyon Loader was when he won double gold at Atlanta in 1996 – still New Zealand’s most recent Olympic swimming medal.

Swimmer Lewis Clareburt at his home pool, Freyberg in Wellington, with legendary Australian coach Doug Frost.

Swimmer Lewis Clareburt at his home pool, Freyberg in Wellington, with legendary Australian coach Doug Frost. ROSA WOODS/STUFF

​Clareburt first shot to prominence in 2017 when he equalled Loader’s longstanding age-group 200m freestyle record, and got a message of congratulations from the man himself. Less than a year later Clareburt won Commonwealth Games bronze as an 18-year-old before the swim of his life in Gwangju.

“The bigger the stage, the better he swims,” says coach Hollywood of his charge. And this unprecedented delay has bought this fast mover even more time to make a big splash at his first Olympics.

Mark Geenty | Stuff NZ

 

 

Mar 28 20

Taking advantage of adversity and disappointment

by ZwemZa

Swimming – like life – is always loaded with the “uncontrollable.”

That is, there are always things in this sport that you have no direct control over – how big, strong and fast your opponents are; how your taper went; dealing with a nagging injury; how you did in your last event; if you’ll get the time you want; how you felt in warmup; whether your coach or parents might be disappointed in you if you swim poorly – the list goes on and on.

Focusing and dwelling on these “UCs” will always make you unhappy, jack your nervous system into the “red zone,” undermine your confidence and sabotage your performance. As an athlete, you want to learn to identify the things that you have no direct control over and discipline yourself to focus on the one thing that you can always learn to control: How you choose to respond to these uncontrollables!

Sometimes the impact of these uncontrollables can rock our world and the effects can be felt far beyond swimming.

For example, your favorite coach suddenly leaves the team, or you develop an illness or sustain an injury that takes you out of the pool for months or even longer, or your parents suddenly decide to move to another part of the country, or you have a family trauma… When these upsetting events happen, it’s easy to get depressed, lose your confidence and feel your motivation do a disappearing act.

But these unexpected, upsetting and uncontrollable events pale in comparison to the disruptive effects of what is happening around the world right now with this pandemic.

Your taper meet gets cancelled, and schools have been shut down. Suddenly your team can’t practice anymore, and your season has been cancelled.

The most unsettling part is the uncertainty of it all.

So how do you ride the wave of emotions generated by this massive uncontrollable so that when it’s finally over, you can come out of this experience stronger, calmer and confident?

As a dedicated and committed swimmer, you probably train six to nine practices a week, depending upon your age and level.

You have important goals that keep you focused. Your sense of identity is closely tied up in being a swimmer. Your self-esteem comes from your training and meets, as does your ability to cope with life’s stresses.

You swim to help manage the challenges life throws your way. Finally – and equally as important – swimming is your social life. Your best friends are usually your teammates.

When you can no longer train because of an injury or something as out-of-the-blue and disruptive as this pandemic, you may find yourself lost, isolated and anxious. What are you supposed to do now if you can’t regularly swim?

You’ve heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Your response to this or any massive uncontrollable must be guided by this saying.

You want to DO everything in your power to manage how you respond to this stressor in as positive a way as possible and stay focused on what you CAN control, NOT on all of the things that are totally out of your control.

Here are some guidelines:

1. First, try to keep a long-term perspective. Understand that while what is going on right now is unprecedented and maybe even scary, eventually things will resolve, and your life will return to something more normal. Right now, we’re all in a state of extremely high activation (anxiety, upset, frustration, etc.), and sooner or later like any activation, what goes up will come down. Even if it’s a month or two or more, things will eventually begin to settle.

2. Whatever hardship you’re dealing with right now, don’t go it alone. Let yourself feel the feelings that have come up around this and talk about them with someone you trust. This could be a friend, your parents or even a counselor. While we’re all asked to “socially isolate,” this does not mean you should emotionally isolate. You can continue to talk with people and professionals remotely, over the phone or by video chat.

3. Sharing your fears, frustration and feelings with others is critically important to you maintaining your health. Allowing your fears to escalate out of proportion and bathing in these stress hormones will only make you extremely unhappy and depress your immune system. When this happens, you’ll be less able to fight off sickness. Talking with others is a way to calm your fears.

4. Let yourself “lean into” this forced rest. Most swimmers forget that rest is an important part of training. Having adequate and regular time off tends to get lost in the shuffle. Most swimmers are used to hitting the “override button,” and just keep pushing. Resting your body, even if it’s a forced rest, is not all bad. It will help recharge you both physically and emotionally

5. Stay mobilized and continue to take action! When we face any kind of “trauma” or adversity in our lives, it’s critically important to do whatever YOU can to help yourself and those around you. Upsetting events become traumatic and potentially long-lasting in our psyche when we allow ourselves to become immobilized and go into freeze because of them. Therefore, you want to make sure that you get enough rest, eat the right kinds of food and stay hydrated as if you were still in the middle of active training, and take good care of yourself. In fact, I would strongly recommend that you act as if you were still in the middle of active training.

6. A critically important part of this staying mobilized is for you to continue to “train.” If you were injured, I’d be recommending to you that you train “around” your injury. That is, if your shoulder was injured, you might not be able to pull, but you could continue kicking. However, most facilities have been closed, and most of you can’t continue swimming. Equally as frustrating, many gyms have also been closed, eliminating access to cardio and weight equipment. Find other ways to keep your muscle tone and cardio up. Go out and run (if local authorities permit), do consistent ab work, exercises and weights at home, etc.

7. Keep your long-term swimming goals in mind. Even if you can’t swim, you can still work towards your goals. When you’re taking care of yourself, making decisions about what to eat or whether you’ll get up early to run, you want to ask yourself, “How is what I’m doing today – right now – going to help me get to my goal?” Keep in mind that all of your competitors are in the same boat as you. The swimmers who are going to come out of this adversity in good shape are the ones who will continue to “train” consistently and work towards their goals in any way that they can.

8. Work on strengthening your weaknesses. Whenever adversity hits, we tend to focus on the terrible parts and not on the opportunities these events potentially provide. Forced time off can offer the chance to work on parts of our sport that we wouldn’t normally work on – specifically our weaknesses.

If you can’t train in the pool or elsewhere, you can always work on strengthening your mental muscles. This is a perfect time to add some effective tools to your mental toughness toolbox. If you tend to fall apart under big meet pressure, you can work on your ability to stay calm and composed under pressure. You can develop the skill of mental rehearsal or visualization. You can learn to manage last-minute negative thinking and self-doubts. If you’ve been the kind of swimmer who gets psyched out before and during your races, this is a great time to work on improving your concentration skills. I have a ton of free articles and videos on my website (www.competitivedge.com) to help you develop these skills. This kind of mental training will pay off big time for you when things eventually return to normal!

9. Finally, please limit the amount of time you watch and read about this pandemic. Being informed is certainly important, but overloading your nervous system with anxiety-laden information that you have no direct control over can be depressing and immobilizing. I suggest developing a regular schedule of activities throughout your day to stay active and constructively distracted. Within this schedule, you can build in a regular, but limited time to take in the news, if that feels necessary to you.

Dr. Alan Goldberg | Competitivedge.com

Mar 28 20

‘Challenge’ to decide who covers cost of postponing Games – Mori

by ZwemZa

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori arrives for the first meeting of the “Tokyo 2020 New Launch Task Force” in Tokyo on Thursday, two days after the unprecedented postponement was announced due to the spreading coronavirus. Photo: Koji Sasahara/AP

Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee president Yoshiro Mori has told international federations that deciding who foots the bill for postponing the Games to 2021 will be a “major challenge”, Olympic news website insidethegames reported on Saturday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese organisers this week postponed the July 24-August 9 event due to the coronavirus pandemic – the first such delay in the modern Games’ 124-year history.

Japan invested $12 billion in the run-up to the Games and IOC President Thomas Bach had warned that the price tag will rise further.

“The extra cost that will arise from this postponement is inevitable,” Mori wrote in a letter addressed to the 33 international federations of sports that make up the Tokyo Games programme.

“Deciding who will bear these costs and how it will be done will be a major challenge.”

Mori also issued a rallying cry to deliver the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 next year and show that humans had “triumphed over the coronavirus”.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee launched a taskforce to resolve issues linked to the postponement, such as reviewing dates for the Games and securing venues.

The Olympics is one of many major sporting events which have been postponed, suspended or cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Reuters

Mar 28 20

U.S. swimmer Madisyn Cox at yet another career crossroads with Olympics delay

by ZwemZa

Madisyn Cox (Instagram)

Madisyn Cox’s side gig of the moment is crafting handmade greeting cards and selling them on Etsy. It’s a therapeutic pursuit as much as anything, a way to release stress from a life of high-performance swimming and academic pursuits.

Among her creations are a series of cards that just say “Thankful,” themed for all seasons of the year. They are an artistic representation of Cox’s stubbornly positive outlook, which has been monumentally tested on more than one occasion during her swimming career.

The most recent test was delivered Tuesday, when the Tokyo Olympics were officially postponed to 2021. For three years since graduating from Texas, the U.S. national team member had put her medical school aspirations on hold to chase the Olympic dream, and now the dream has been deferred again. Possibly for good.

That has put Cox at yet another career crossroads—not the hardest one of her career, but not easy by means.

“It was a punch in the gut, it really was,” said Cox’s mom, Sandy. “She was a mess. I think she felt she did everything right, and then all your fine-laid plans are gone.”

The one-year delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic will absolutely change the makeup of the U.S. Olympic team from what it would have been in 2020. Some athletes on top of their game now will not be able to replicate that in 2021. Some new faces will emerge. Some, who had carefully choreographed everything toward a final big summer before moving on, must now regroup.

Cox has been accepted to three med schools to date and is holding an acceptance at Texas’ McGovern School in Houston. She’s also waiting to hear from her top two choices: Stanford and the Mayo Clinic.

Instead of enrolling in one of them in late summer, she plans to ask for a one-year deferral—maybe. That depends on the timeline for Tokyo 2021. If the Games are scheduled late enough in the summer to conflict with the start of med school, she will either have to ask for second deferral, ask for a late start to the semester, or retire.

“I was very upset,” Cox said. “I took a moment for myself and cried it out. But that was more of a selfish response—it was the right decision.”

Once the International Olympic Committee made its decision, Cox eventually made hers. She found a Texas alum’s backyard pool and got back in the water. Devastated on Tuesday, thankful by Thursday. For now, the Tokyo dream remains afloat. That response is how Madisyn Cox is wired.

In 2016, Cox finished fourth in both the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medleys at U.S. Olympic Trials. That’s an incredible achievement, but only the top two finishers go to the Olympics. Since then, the plan had been in place: shoot for Tokyo in 2020, then enter medical school thereafter.

The top American IMer, Maya DiRado, had retired. So had Olympians Elizabeth Beisel and Caitlin Leverenz. Nothing is guaranteed over the course of an Olympiad, but Cox’s opportunity was clear and present.

In 2017, she won a bronze medal at World Championships in the 200 IM and a gold as part of the 800-meter freestyle relay. Everything was progressing as planned into a momentous 2018.

That summer was a big one for American swimming—the national championships would select teams for both the 2018 Pan-Pacific Championships and the 2019 World Championships. It was a year to start clarifying the race to make Tokyo.

Then the phone rang in March 2018, almost two years ago to the day.

Cox received devastating news: she had tested positive for a banned substance. The positive test for Trimetazidine—categorized under hormones and metabolites—came out of nowhere. She’d been tested 20 or more times, both in-competition and outside of it, without a positive. This didn’t make sense, but the findings were backed up by both her A and B samples.

For a long time, the result was known only to FINA, the governing body of international swimming, Cox’s family and her coach at Texas, Carol Capitani.

“I was still able to swim [while awaiting a FINA ruling],” Cox said. “But none of my teammates knew. I went to practice every day without knowing if I’d ever be able to compete again. I didn’t know why, but I thought maybe this was a sign that I was supposed to give it up.”

An academic high achiever, Cox broke down trying to prepare for spring semester finals that year at Texas. For the first time as a collegian, she bombed a test. The phone conversations with her mom were keeping her afloat, but only barely.

“She would call and say, ‘Mom, I can’t do it,’” Sandy Cox recalled. “I told her, ‘You don’t have to get through the rest of the day. Just get through the next hour. Write down what you have to do and do it.’ That was much tougher than what she’s going through now.”

Behind the scenes, Cox was vigorously proclaiming her innocence. But without being able to offer evidence of where the “unfathomably low” amount of the drug came from, FINA had little choice but to suspend her. That’s despite an anti-doping panel finding her to be “an honest, very hardworking and highly credible athlete who is not a ‘cheat,’ and also said that they believed her testimony to be true.”

A potential four-year suspension was reduced to two years, based on her character. The bombshell news dropped in late July, not long before U.S. Championships: Cox would miss that meet and would not be able to make a U.S. international team for 2018 or ’19. She couldn’t compete again until 2020, during the run-up to Tokyo qualifying.

The world of Olympic sports is rife with eye-rolling at claims of innocence from alleged PED users. Most of them were not believable. But Madisyn Cox testing positive? That didn’t make sense to anyone who knew her. Teammates and competitors alike voiced support for her.

Still, the outside world looked and applied the label: another drug cheat.

“You can only control your own narrative,” Sandy Cox said. “But for somebody to make a judgement about your kid when they know absolutely nothing was hard to take.”

The Cox family went to work investigating potential sources of the drug. They hired lawyers. They hired a world-renowned expert on contamination. They hired an expert on hair analysis from France. She took a lie-detector test.

“You do the right thing and the rug gets pulled out from underneath you,” Sandy Cox said. “We wanted to defend her reputation.”

Cody Cox, Madisyn’s father, is a radiologist who makes a good living in Lubbock, Texas. But the expense of building a legal defense was considerable.

The most likely potential sources for the drug: food, water, or doping by a stranger. When none of those turned up anything, Sandy Cox thought of something—Madisyn had taken the same multivitamin since her junior year in high school. What about testing those?

The test showed traces of Trimetazine in the bottle of Cooper Complete multivitamins Cox had taken at the time of her positive test. Lawyers then accessed other bottles of the vitamin that were made in the same batch, and they also had traces of the drug. The ingredients the company used to make its vitamins at that specific time had been contaminated.

Presenting the evidence to Court of Arbitration for Sport, Cox had her suspension reduced from two years to six months. She still missed U.S. Championships and the international meets that were selected from those results, but at least her name was cleared and her path back to competition was set. (The Cox family has sued an affiliate of the supplement company that makes the vitamins.)

After being cleared, Cox had a solid 2019 season. She believed she was hitting her stride and rebuilding her confidence here in 2020 leading into Olympic Trials.

The top four American women times in the 200 IM over the last seven months are tightly bunched, all within .28 seconds of each other. Cox is one of those four. It was shaping up to be a brawl for the wall in Omaha in June. In the 400 IM, 2016 Olympian Melanie Margalis had separated herself from the pack, but there is a large group all with similar times behind her—Cox prominently included.

Now, nobody knows what 2021 will bring.

After she stopped crying on Tuesday, Madisyn Cox took refuge in books. She read two of them that day, one of them titled, Occasional Magic. It’s a collection of true stories about people overcoming adversity.

“It’s kind of serendipitous that I was reading that at the time,” she said. “It kind of put things in perspective. People go through a lot worse than having the Olympics postponed a year.”

Pat Forde | Sports Illustrated

 

Mar 28 20

IOC boss Bach’s leadership questioned over Tokyo Games

by ZwemZa

Thomas Bach has a tough job as IOC president and is used to being criticized from many sides. But his leadership has been seriously questioned after he long hesitated on the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Keystone via AP/pool

Thomas Bach is pretty much used to criticism from various fronts as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but his handling of the coronavirus crisis has added a new dimension.

No nation or athlete had quit over the IOC’s highly controversial handling of the Russian doping affair at the 2016 Games in Rio and 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

But this time around Bach’s leadership was bluntly questioned as famous athletes lambasted the German, Canada and Australia said they wouldn’t send athletes to Tokyo 2020, and German athletes’ spokesman Max Hartung also said he wouldn’t compete, by the time the IOC and Japanese organizers accepted the inevitable and postponed the Games till 2021.

It is likely that the criticism from the athletes stung Bach, a 1976 fencing gold medallist for West Germany who was deeply upset when his country joined the boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow.

IOC member Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time ice hockey gold medallist from Canada, tweeted that pressing on without considering other measures was “insensitive and irresponsible.” British rowing great Matthew Pinsent suggested staging the Games was “tone deaf.”

Until a week ago the 66-year-old lawyer Bach insisted that Tokyo would take place as planned. Then on Sunday a four-week decision period was announced while the US swim and athletics bodies had already joined the choir calling for postponement, which however was never explicitly mentioned as an option. But it was too late.

Former American sprint great Michael Johnson had urged Bach to “communicate the process to the athletes!” And Bach’s successor as German Olympic supremo, Alfons Hoermann, also said that “clear communication and decisive action” are what it takes during a crisis.

Dagmar Freitag, chair of Germany’s parliamentary sports commission, was blunt.

“Not for the first time in his term Thomas Bach has raised doubts about his leadership skills,” Freitag told Friday’s Mittelbayerische Zeitung.

Freitag said that his hesitation now as well as his lack of harsh action, a blanket ban, on Russia “will both in retrospect be inseparably remembered with Bach’s term in office.”

Bach, an IOC member since 1991, stands for election for a final four-term next year after the expiration of his first mandate over eight years, and that IOC ballot will show whether he has also lost credit within the Olympic organization.

“Next year there are elections at the IOC, then we will see how it continues,” German athletics chief Juergen Kessing said, also insisting that “leadership has a different look.”

Bach, for his part, defended his insistence on staging the Games amid the growing health crisis – including asking athletes to continue training when facilities were already closed in locked down countries – because they were still four months away.

In a conference call Wednesday, he spoke of a quickly deteriorating situation over the past days, including a “very alarming” declaration from the World Health Organization, and had no regrets because the Games weren’t cancelled outright.

“No, because this was the commitment and is the commitment to our Japanese partners. We could have decided on a cancellation our own. But for a postponement we needed the full commitment of our Japanese partners,” he said.

“This is what we were looking for with our approach and this is what we achieved yesterday, making it possible that the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are happening and did not have to be cancelled.

“We can give athletes the hope and assurance that their Olympic dream can still come true, even with a delay,” he said.

dpa

Mar 27 20

Remaining 2020 Canadian national events cancelled

by ZwemZa

Bronze medalists Kylie Masse, Sydney Pickrem, Maggie MacNeil and Penny Oleksiak of Canada stand on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Women’s 4x100m medley relay on day eight of the world championships. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Following the lead of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee, Swimming Canada has announced the cancellation of all summer 2020 national events due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships (May 22-24, Etobicoke, Ont.), Canadian Junior Championships (July 22-27, Montreal), and Canadian Swimming Championships (Aug. 6-9, Edmonton).

After announcing the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials, presented by Bell, Swimming Canada had been evaluating contingency plans for a potential late June Trials. In light of the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, those plans are no longer necessary and the Trials remain suspended until new timing can be determined.

“We would like to thank the COC, CPC, IOC and IPC for their leadership in these difficult times. We understand that postponing the Games was an incredibly difficult decision, but one that needed to be made for the safety of all, therefore we are following suit with our national events,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.

The previously announced moratorium on all sanctioned competitions continues through April 30. Should provincial health authorities allow recreation facilities to reopen, Provincial Sections may resume local, regional, and/or provincial swimming activities at their discretion.

Pending further details on the rescheduling of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Swimming Canada’s 2021 national events calendar is being assessed, and 2021 national events will be confirmed at a later date.

“The world needs healing. It takes time. The sun will rise again for the most celebrated Games, and for our Canadian championships. The athletes will awe us with their amazing talents once more. The world just needs some time to heal. Once the storm is over, we will swim again,” El-Awadi said.

Meanwhile, the Swimming Canada executive team and staff, along with 1976 Olympic medallist and President Cheryl Gibson, held a videoconference Wednesday for hundreds of swimmers, coaches, integrated support team staff, Provincial Section representatives, and representatives from partners such as COC, CPC, Own the Podium and the CSCTA. High Performance Director John Atkinson instructed athletes to train at home, on their own, under the advice of their coaches and/or other qualified experts.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure we do our part in flattening the curve and follow the guideline of social distancing,” Atkinson said, encouraging the swimming community to follow all government mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Atkinson also announced that all scheduled national camps and activities will be postponed until at least the fall. Existing national team selection and nomination criteria will be withdrawn and reviewed, then reworked and posted as applicable once more detail on the international competition calendar is known. Athletes carded under Sport Canada’s Athlete Assistance Program will continue to receive funding, however, adjustments will need to be made for 2020-21.

Swimming Canada

Mar 27 20

Finding a new Olympic date for 2021 – as difficult as winning gold

by ZwemZa

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 24: The Olympic Rings are displayed in front of the new national stadiumm which construction continues on the day marking the one year to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 24, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

The Olympics have a preferred slot within the blown up international sports calendar.

But the unprecedented move of postponing Tokyo 2020 to 2021 has created a major dilemma, with various options explored and sports federations likely having to be flexible to accommodate the biggest sports event on the planet.

Following are key aspects on the challenging issue:

WHEN ARE THE OLYMPICS NORMALLY HELD? While some of the early Olympics took place over several months, the Games are now held over 16 days and in a preferred July/August slot. But in the past Melbourne 1956 was held November 22-December 8, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968 in October, and Seoul 1988 and Sydney 2000 in the last two weeks of September, mainly for climate reasons.

WHY THE JULY/AUGUST SLOT? Football is in its pre-season and just restarting, other sport in a summer break, and apart from baseball all major US Sports also in the off- or pre-season, which is important for broadcaster NBC who have spent some 12 billion dollars overall for the Olympic broadcast rights between 2014 and 2032. The Olympics get maximum exposure at this time of the year.

WHEN DOES THE IOC WANT TO HOLD THE GAMES IN 2021? The original dates for 2020 were July 24-August 9. This would correspond with July 23-August 8 next year. IOC president Thomas Bach has said “we want to organize these Olympic Games at the latest in summer 2021” and that deliberations are “not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table before or during the summer 2021.” But IOC coordination committee chair John Coates has reportedly said the preferred date would be between the Wimbledon (ends July 11) and US Open (starts August 30) tennis grand slams.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER DATES? Thomas Weikert, head of the ruling table tennis body, has told dpa “we would suggest April or earlier.” That is no surprise because his sports’ worlds are set for June 17-26 which would be very close to the regular Olympic slot. Such a date in spring would however make conditions for athletes easier as opposed to the heat and humidity in July and August. But spring also marks the culmination of the NBA and NHL seasons, and in many European sports leagues led by football with domestic and continental club competitions. European handball chief Michael Wiederer warned that “placing the Olympic Games in the middle of the season will dramatically effect all the competitions” and have a negative impact “even, in the Olympic Games, on handball itself.” A spring date would likely also give the Olympics far less exposure and would force a major reshuffle of the already currently badly affected sports calendar in order to have top athletes at the Games.

WHAT DOES THE MOVE TO 2021 MEAN IN GENERAL FOR THE CALENDAR? Non-Olympic years traditionally see world championships in many of the 33 Olympic summer sports. This means that athletes would have two season highlights in 2021, a scenario not really preferred. The Olympics would also take away the attraction of the various sports’ worlds. The IOC and the 33 federations had a conference call on Thursday, with Weikert speaking of “a good discussion” but that details would not be released.

AND A JULY 23-AUGUST 8 SLOT IN PARTICULAR? Directly affected would be the two major Olympic sports of swimming and athletics, with the aquatics worlds set for July 16-August 1, also in Japan (Fukuoka), and the athletics worlds in Eugene, Oregon, set for August 6-15. BMX cycling and taekwondo also have their worlds in that period, while others like table tennis (June 17-26), rowing (September 26-October 3) and road cycling (September 18-26) shortly before or after. In addition, cycling’s Tour de France is currently scheduled for July 2-25, and would also have to be brought forward.

HOW CAN THIS DILEMMA BE SOLVED? World Athletics has said Eugene organizers are ready for any scenario to solve the conundrum, “including dates in 2022.” Aquatic’s FINA has reportedly ruled out moving its event by a year but is ready to make a 2021 switch, no easy task given that many countries led by the United States will also have Olympic trials. Other sports with biannual worlds may also move within 2021 or even to 2022, which is a big task for any organizer and ruling body. But sports federations are also expected to be flexible on moving dates because many of them depend in a major way on the millions of dollars all summer and winter Olympic sports receive from the IOC.

dpa

Mar 27 20

I can swim ever faster with another year’s training, says Schoenmaker

by ZwemZa

Tatjana Schoenmaker reacts after winning the Women’s 100m breaststroke final at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: Darren England/EPA

Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker says she is greatly relieved that the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed to next year.

In the light of her conquests on the world swimming circuit last year, Schoenmaker has emerged as one of South Africa’s leading medal contenders for future global events. Last year she racked up medals at the World Student Games, Fina World Championships and the Tokyo World Cup.

These milestone achievements all contributed to her being crowned Sports Star of the Year and Sportswoman of the Year at last year’s SA Sports Awards.

“It is a decision (postponing the Tokyo Games) that was needed to be made as people’s lives are at risk due to the worldwide coronavirus,” said Schoenmaker.

“From a personal perspective, the cancellation is a let-down. For 15 years it has been my dream to compete at an Olympic Games. 2020 would have been it. But then again, what difference is another year going to make?

“It gives me more time to improve my swimming skills. I got a fantastic team supporting me, which means postponing my programme by a year ought not to be a problem.”

Schoenmaker said the last few weeks was shrouded in mystery as the COVID-19 pandemic made its presence felt around the world. It cast doubts over the Tokyo Olympics taking place.

“The reality is that South Africa will go into lockdown. I am not sure if it would have been possible to continue to train,” she said.

Schoenmaker said he was relieved that the “waiting game” was over and that swimmers could enjoy the benefit of extra time to prepare for next year’s Games.

Meanwhile, the IOC is working with sports bodies to arrange a July-August window for the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and hopes to confirm the schedule within a month, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported yesterday.

John Coates, the IOC’s coordination commission chief for Tokyo, told the Yomiuri that the Games would have to be held between the tennis grand slams of Wimbledon, slated to end in mid-July, and the US Open, which starts in late August.

“We want to more or less finalise the dates in four weeks’ time,” the paper quoted Coates as saying.

Coates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), said the middle of the year scheduling would be dependent on avoiding clashes with the world championships for swimming (July 16-August 1) and athletics (August 6-15).

World Athletics boss Sebastian Coe has said the world athletics championships in Eugene, Oregon could be moved back to 2022 if necessary.

Coates told the newspaper the hope was to follow the same arrangements next year that had been planned for 2020, including holding the marathon in the northern city of Sapporo instead of Tokyo to escape the heat.

ANA

Mar 27 20

Cherry blossom Olympics: could Tokyo 2020 delay beat the heat?

by ZwemZa

Tokyo 2020

Every cloud has a silver lining and the devastating postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could hand organisers a heaven-sent opportunity to solve their other massive problem: the summer heat.

The historic decision to delay the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic gave Tokyo a wide range of options when rescheduling: the Games will be held “beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021.”

This leaves open the possibility of a spring Olympics when the weather in Tokyo is at its finest and removes at a stroke the worries about athletes and fans suffering in the brutal heat and humidity of Japan’s summer.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike confirmed the postponement had opened up this tantalising option – that would also give her the opportunity of reclaiming the marathon which before the postponement was shifted to the northern city of Sapporo over heat fears.

“Since we are in this situation, one idea is to have (the IOC) move the date to a time that is not hot,” she said.

She later added with a smile: “I think Tokyo would be good” to host the marathon if temperatures were less fierce.

IOC chief Thomas Bach himself has said rescheduling “is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table, before and including the summer of 2021.”

And it was clearly on the mind of Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori, even in the immediate aftermath of the crushing postponement.

“We are trying to set a new schedule to be done by the summer. It might be earlier… As a result, if the hottest part of the summer could be avoided, wouldn’t that be a happy thing,” he said just minutes after the postponement.

Bach has described the unprecedented task of reorganising the world’s biggest sports event as a huge “jigsaw puzzle” and any rearranged date brings challenges.

A spring Olympics would clash with the end of the European football season, as well as the NBA playoffs and the early part of the baseball season in the US, noted Marcus Luer, CEO of sports branding firm Total Sports Asia.

“I like the general idea, April-May is a beautiful time in Japan, it makes sense from that point,” he told AFP.

But the clashes make it “too complicated and hard,” he said.

However, any rescheduling involves clashes – a summer Games would require athletics and swimming to move their World Championships.

In terms of cost, organisers had already put aside huge sums for innovative antidotes to the summer heat and humidity, including heat-absorbing road paint, water sprinklers, and even fake snow.

After admitting that the delay will cause “massive” extra spending, Tokyo 2020 would surely welcome the savings if anti-heat measures were no longer required.

“The compensation and new spending required would probably be lower if the Olympics happened in spring rather than summer,” one representative from a sporting federation, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP.

But some federations believe that having postponed the Games for health reasons, organisers should think twice about risking the health of athletes and fans by exposing them to the Tokyo summer.

President of the International Federation for Equestrian Sport Ingmar de Vos urged Tokyo 2020 and the IOC to “find a date where there will be less heat and less humidity.”

“But why not, for the IOC to look at it again and choose dates which are better from a weather point of view. It’s maybe an opportunity,” he added.

The European Handball Association’s president Michael Wiederer said though that an Olympics “in the middle of the season will dramatically effect all the competitions” and might have a “negative impact” on the Olympic event.

The IOC is reportedly looking to make the decision in a few weeks, with powerful chief coordinator John Coates quoted in the Yomiuri Shimbun as leaning towards a summer Games.

The modern Olympic Games have been a moveable feast and organisers could point to historical precedent in considering a spring time slot.

The last time Tokyo held the Olympics, in 1964, they were held in October, as were the following Games in Mexico City.

The early versions of the modern Olympics were held in spring – starting in April or May for Athens 1896, Paris 1900, London 1908 and Stockholm 1912 (St Louis 1904 was timed to coincide with an international exhibition and lasted from July to November).

Speaking before the postponement was announced, the IOC’s former head of marketing Michael Payne told AFP: “Summer 2021 is the best option – indeed the only option.”

AFP

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