Tokyo Olympics delay a dream and a nightmare | The Examiner

sport, local-sport, brian roe, examiner, 2020, olympics, tokyo, hamish peacock, coronavirus

A year long delay in the staging of the Tokyo Olympic Games will prove nothing more than a small glitch in the annual routine for many potential participants. But for some it will be a nightmare – for others a blessing in disguise. From one perspective though the whole thing will provide a significant degree of uncertainty for all. Before the Games were postponed by a year to July 2021 those preparing had only experienced doubt for a month or two. That provided the sort of dilemma many had not had to face before. For those who like to operate in black and white it was difficult to manage. That insecurity will apply across the board and for up to 14 months as every National Olympic Committee comes to terms with its own circumstances in terms of coronavirus. The International Olympic Committee has stated that qualification for Tokyo that has already been achieved will be respected. But that means many different things to individual and team participants and their countries. There is a huge variation across Olympic sports. In some a particular individual earns a place. In others it is a matter of a place being allocated to an NOC which can then select the athlete to take the spot. In team sports the places in Tokyo are earned through qualifying tournaments organised by the respective international sporting federations. The successful NOCs can then select whoever they want for the Games whether they participated in the qualifying tournaments or not. MORE OPINION: What if the global sport spotlight shone on Tasmania? Jurassic Park and world sport: Life finds a way Desperate footy times call for desperate measures Then there are athletics and swimming which set entry standards to be achieved by individuals, leaving it to the NOCs to determine which of those qualified should be selected for the places available – generally three per event for track and field and two in aquatics. Most NOCs make those decisions based on recommendations from the relevant national sporting federations. In essence it means that for many participants qualification and selection are two very different things. Having “qualification” guaranteed might indeed be a good thing but in 15 months’ times it may be a long way from selection and getting to Tokyo. The Australian Olympic Committee has announced the actual selection of some athletes for Tokyo – for individual spots or in paddle, cycling and artistic swimming as members of qualified teams. Those selected can prepare with confidence in the knowledge that if the Games go ahead they will be on the plane – provided they remain healthy and uninjured and hopefully committed. But for other team sport athletes it’s really like starting all over again in terms of a 12-month preparation – although without the uncertainty whether Australia will have a team. ELSEWHERE IN SPORT: Launceston holding firm in trying times ‘No-one’s got an answer on return date’: TSL coach Whips cracking for a racing return AFL to announce resumption date in next two weeks That’s the same story for sports like rowing which had qualified boats for a range of events. Those who sit in those actual seats for the Games had not been selected so the door is open for those were not in the frame in 2020. And that group can be quite diverse – those who were ill or injured or unavailable for other reasons and equally those who weren’t quite there yet. Twelve months can be a long time in the development of individual sporting talent. One more year of conditioning and skill acquisition can be crucial, especially for those emerging from junior ranks. Another 12 months of simply being older and stronger can be all that is required for a prodigy to claim a spot – and displace an incumbent. In athletics and swimming where in most countries very few had been selected everything is once again in play. The country’s number one male javelin thrower in recent years, Hamish Peacock, is one of those who will benefit. He’s had a shocking run of minor injuries and poorer than usual performances in the past year. As this year’s selection trial approached he ripped a key muscle tendon away from his throwing shoulder. But now even with a six-month recovery period there will be plenty of time to re-group and access a quality preparation period before the eventual selection event. Marathoner Jess Trengove had chosen motherhood ahead of a third Olympics. Now she is again in the picture, creating one of the most fascinating battles for membership of the Australian team. In 2020 there were already four women vying for the three spots – now almost certainly there will be five – perhaps even more as others assess what they might be able to do with an extra year in their development.