MILPITAS, Calif. - On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee announced the summer 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the first time a global health issue has caused the Olympic games to be suspended.
The Olympics was scheduled to begin July 24 but with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, it was inevitable.
19-year-old Kanak Jha of Milpitas is on the U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team. The current national champion has sacrificed a lot. He’s based in Germany where he trains full-time. He saw the Tokyo Olympics as redemption after he was defeated in the first round in Rio in 2016. Kanak is relieved yet disappointed.
“It’s definitely hard news to think about because this is something so special for me and for all athletes,” said Jha. “When you see the news and how the virus is spread across the world with the number of cases and how dangerous it is I think it was the only option.”
The Olympics has been canceled before during war but this is the first time it’s been delayed with plans to hold the games next year.
In a video message, the International Olympic Committee President said the decision was based on safeguarding the health of athletes and to help contain the virus during uncertain times.
“We want this Olympic flame to be a light at the end of the tunnel and this is why we will work hard now to undertake this extremely challenging task,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
“It sounds like it’s hard to put on the Olympic Games with this kind of activity going on in the world,” said U.S. Fencing Coach Greg Massialas. “I just couldn't see how the athletes would be ready.”
Massialas is the U.S. foil fencing coach. The three-time Olympian said it was hard for athletes to train. The pandemic complicated the Olympic qualifying model with many events cancelled.
Massialas's 25-year-old son Alexander had high hopes to compete in fencing. Now with more time to train, he said, when the Olympics returns, it will be more meaningful.
“If we could all band together and defeat this pandemic that's happening right now and come together in a celebration of sport afterward for the Olympics I think it will be a true testament to that Olympic spirit,” said Alexander Massialas.