Olympic Games in 2021 must not be a pale imitation of Tokyo 2020

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With the Olympics postponed, and the IOC’s cheesily-named ‘Here We Go’ committee addressing the logistics of rearranging such a huge event, I have one plea for them – don’t water down the Games in 2021.

The task in front of the IOC shouldn’t be underestimated. Staging an Olympics is a monumental effort that takes years, with preplanning, to the event itself and then the legacy all needing to be accounted for.

As there are more than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries competing across 339 events, and then coaches, officials, broadcasters, sponsors, spectators etc all to be considered, there are many moving parts to try to align.

IOC president, Thomas Bach, spoke of how “sacrifices” and “compromises” will have to be made as a result of the postponement. He acknowledged that there are “many thousands of questions that this taskforce will have to address”.

He also hinted that one such casualty could be the Athletes Village, the apartments which were to be sold after the games were completed. Bach described the village as “the heart of the Games” but acknowledged “we have to find the best possible solution under the circumstances we are living in.”

I would urge the IOC to prioritise one thing above all else though – the athletes. Training to compete in an Olympics often takes a lifetime of sacrifice to hit your peak at the right time.

This postponement alone will throw lives and livelihoods into chaos and inevitably there will be some athletes that could have competed this summer, who, for a multitude of reasons, won’t be able to next. Their dreams will be dashed.

I understand compromises will need to be made, but hope above all else, they don’t cancel some sports and their events. Had that have happened to me, I would have been inconsolable.

Yet some of the early language being used would suggest that the next Olympics may be a somewhat diluted version from what we were expecting.

What I am certain of is that the 2021 Games will be the most united the world has ever seen. The Coronavirus for all its devastating effects is making the world feel quite a lot smaller.

It has shown that regardless of what country you live in, your race, religion, sex, age, wealth, culture or pastimes, we are all human beings with many things in common.

The problems every nation has faced of late have been the same and a global united response is what is required, with each nation having sympathy for the other.

I doubt there will ever be a day where the world comes together and declares the coronavirus officially over, but I imagine the next Olympic Games will be the event that doubles up as a worldwide party as we hopefully have put to bed one of the most challenging times the human race has ever experienced.

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