S. Korea forced to readjust focus with Tokyo Olympics postponed

Mar 25, 2020

S. Korea forced to readjust focus with Tokyo Olympics postponed

Seoul (South Korea) March 25: With the Tokyo Summer Olympics having been postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic, South Korea, like other countries, will be in a scrambling mode as its athletes seek to readjust their focus and survive in the increasingly volatile sporting world.
The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed its latest victim in sports, perhaps its biggest one to date, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo agreed on Tuesday to reschedule the 2020 Summer Games. A joint statement by the IOC and Tokyo's organizing committee noted that the competition will be moved "to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021."
This year's Olympic Games were scheduled to open on July 24. But one by one, with the coronavirus wreaking havoc around the world, Olympic qualifying events kept getting postponed and rescheduled. As a growing number of countries shut down sports facilities to discourage mass gathering and closed borders to slow the spread of the virus, athletes were left with few options, if any, to train for the quadrennial event.
South Korean elite athletes, though, have been among the few lucky ones. They have been holed up inside the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, some 90 kilometers south of Seoul. It's tucked in a remote corner of a small town in North Chungcheong Province, ideal for high-intensity athletic training thanks to absence of distractions.
But Shin Chi-yong, director of the training center, said some unexpected distractions had been trickling into athletes' quarters -- news reports about the status of the Tokyo Olympics.
As recently as last week, the IOC said it was fully committed to staging the Olympics as scheduled, a stance that was quickly met with a major pushback from athletes and even IOC members for being tone-deaf and irresponsible.
South Korean athletes said all the right things -- that they were only going to stay focused on their preparations and not worry about the Olympics until a decision was made.
And with the decision made, Shin had mixed feelings.
"Since the situation with the coronavirus has not settled down, we should definitely welcome the postponement of the Olympic Games," Shin said. "On the other hand, there are a lot of aging athletes who were viewing this as their last Olympics. An extra year of preparation could put so much burden on them. And with this latest news, our athletes and coaches will have trouble staying focused."
These athletes had been under strict quarantine orders, as they're barred from leaving the center. There may be a few cases of cabin fever, if not actual fever. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) will sit down with the sports ministry in the coming days to make any necessary adjustments to operations of the training center, now that the Olympic Games have been pushed back.
According to the KSOC, 157 South Korean athletes in 19 sports had secured Tokyo Olympic spots as of March 10. The IOC will have to work on the qualifying details and determine whether those athletes will still be assured of their places next year or they have to qualify all over again.
Source: Yonhap News