EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Not even the Olympics could withstand the force of the coronavirus pandemic. After weeks of hedging, the IOC took the unprecedented step of postponing the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, to 2021. The decision to push back the world’s largest sporting event was announced on Tuesday.
The Tokyo Games, slated for 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries had been scheduled to start on July 24. Several athletes from El Paso have been training for the games and while they are disappointed in the outcome, they know it was the right decision.
“For me, I think it was just realizing this is the most safe choice that the IOC can make,” said former Hanks High School track standout Kendra Chambers. “We have to respect that.”
After graduating from Hanks, Chambers went on to run at the University of Texas. She is now an international 800m runner and was a member of the 2017 World Relay team in the 4 x 800m. The El Pasoan competed at the World Indoor Championships in 2015 and was a semi-finalist in the Olympic Trials in 2016.
“It’s going to have to get worse before it can get better,” said former Franklin High School track standout Gabe Navarro. “If it’s safer us, it’s safer for the fans and everyone involved. The officials and everyone else.”
Navarro is a two-time All-American at Stanford University and took the year off to train for the Olympics where he was set to compete in the 2020 Olympic Trials with Mexico.
“Nobody is training and because this is a global crisis, I think this was the right decision by the IOC considering everything that’s going on,” said former UTEP and NCAA champion Emmanuel Korir.
This is the first time the Olympics have been postponed. The Games were canceled in 1916, 1940, and 1944 because of World War I (1916) and World War II (1940, 1944).