Tokyo Olympics: Jade Jones 'petrified' of positive coronavirus test derailing Games hopes

By Sports Desk July 17, 2021

Jade Jones is in the hunt for an historic third successive gold medal in taekwondo at the Tokyo Olympics, and she is doing all she can to ensure coronavirus does not derail her hopes.

The Tokyo Games are set to start next week, though no fans will be allowed to attend as Japan deals with another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Jones tested positive for the illness earlier this year, and the 28-year-old has since had both doses of a vaccine, though that does not mean she cannot still contract the virus.

She won gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016, with no taekwondo athlete having ever won three straight gold medals in the discipline. Jones is also hoping to become the first British female Olympian to claim the top prize at three consecutive Games.

However, her participation would be ended if she tests positive for coronavirus, and Jones explained the lengths which she and her team are going to in order to avoid such a situation.

"The hardest bit is being petrified you're going to test positive," Jones, who is based at the Keio University in Minato City, told the Evening Standard. "I've had the vaccines and I've had COVID so it's highly unlikely.

"But I still don't want to get a positive test because that means game over, you're out. To have your Olympic dreams pending on that is scary. I constantly wear the mask.


"My hands are raw from the amount of hand gel I've been putting on, we walk in single file to training, literally a little traffic system so no-one comes near us and we stay in that same bubble.

"To be fair, I'm quite anti-social anyway, so it works well for me. I've got an excuse now. Got to keep my distance. Where we have our meal there's a sticker on the table saying 'keep conversation to a minimum'."

Indeed, on Saturday, Jones' fears might only have been heightened by a positive COVID-19 case being discovered in the athletes' village.

Jones, though, is still enjoying the atmosphere in Tokyo, despite the strict restrictions.

"I thought because of COVID it's not going to be the same, it's going to be rubbish, it's not going to compare to London and Rio," Jones said.

"I got here and it seems the same. Obviously, you have to wear the mask but I still feel like that little kid walking around saying 'this is amazing'. Just wearing the kit, I just feel proud to be here again."

Related items

  • On This Day in 2013: Sarah Stevenson ends taekwondo career On This Day in 2013: Sarah Stevenson ends taekwondo career

    Two-time taekwondo world champion Sarah Stevenson announced her retirement on this day in 2013.

    The announcement brought to an end a glittering career that also brought her four gold medals at the European Championships.

    She also claimed Britain’s first ever Olympic medal in taekwondo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but was at the centre of controversy after appealing against a contentious ruling during her quarter-final loss to China’s Chen Zhong.

    The appeal was successful meaning Stevenson was awarded a spot in the semi-finals and she went on to take bronze.

    Stevenson’s first taekwondo world title came in 2001, and she earned her second a decade later in emotional circumstances as both her parents were critically ill.

    Her parents died later that year and her career could have been derailed after suffering a serious knee injury, but she recovered in time to compete in her fourth Olympics at London 2012.

    She failed to progress beyond the first round and, having not fought since then, reached the decision to retire and take up a role as a high-performance coach with GB Taekwondo.

    Stevenson, then aged 30, said: “It has been a hard decision and it has been a long process but I think in just stepping away from the sport and having a break, waiting to seeing if I’m going to miss it or not – I realised I didn’t miss it.

    “I didn’t feel in my heart that I wanted to compete again.

    “I don’t really do anything half-hearted and I think it would be a mistake for me to continue if my heart isn’t in it.

    “But I have no regrets and it feels good to say that. I am 100 per cent happy with my decision.”

  • Jade Jones hungry to make ‘sporting history’ and claim third Olympic gold medal Jade Jones hungry to make ‘sporting history’ and claim third Olympic gold medal

    The prospect of pulling off “mission impossible” and becoming the first taekwondo athlete in history to win three Olympic gold medals has spurred Jade Jones to shrug off the painful memories of Tokyo and plot another ascent to the top of her sport.

    Right back to the aftermath of her improbable first Olympic title as a teenager at London 2012, Jones has always been honest about her struggle to find the motivation to submit to the gruelling process of repeating her success through another Olympic cycle.

    But one year from the opening of the Paris Olympics finds the 30-year-old Jones full of reasons to breathe new life into her taekwondo career, from making history to erasing an uncomfortable chapter in the Japanese capital that saw her surrender her title at the last-16 stage.

    “The hunger is fully back with me,” Jones told the PA news agency. “Tokyo didn’t go well and I’ve since realised that my mind just wasn’t right but I quickly realised I didn’t want to leave my career like that – I wanted another shot at making sporting history.”

    Jones’ shock loss to Refugee Team competitor Kimia Alizadeh left the Flint athlete close to tears and threatened to prove her swansong on the Olympic stage, as she openly admitted to experiencing anxiety and not enjoying a Games sanitised by small crowds and lingering lockdown regulations.

    “There was so much expectation on me in the build-up to Tokyo because everyone expected me to go out there and get the third gold, and I went to Tokyo feeling that I had everything to lose,” added Jones.

    “Everything was pressure. There was pressure on me as the athlete and there was all the pandemic stuff that meant I didn’t enjoy it.

    “I’d grown so used to being cheered on in my big competitions by friends and family, and to have no spectators there just made it a really strange experience. The whole thing just made it feel like it wasn’t happening for me out there, and it wasn’t meant to be.”

    Jones returned home to inevitable questions about her future and took an extended break from competition, returning to take bronze at the 2022 World Championships in Guadalajara.

    After falling in the quarter-finals of the 2023 World Championships to Taipei’s Lo Chia-ling in Baku in May, Jones rebounded the following month, underscoring her commitment to the Paris process by winning her second European Games gold medal in Krakow.

    It was a timely triumph for Jones, who must see off her domestic rival, the three-time world bronze medallist Aaliyah Powell, to secure the solitary -57kg squad on Great Britain’s Olympic team, before she can even think about overcoming the weight of her sport’s history.

    A number of athletes have won two Olympic gold medals, but even the seemingly invincible American Steven Lopez fell short of an historic third in Beijing in 2008, when he had to settle for bronze after a controversial judging call in his semi-final against Italy’s Mauro Sarmiento.

    “No-one has won three Olympic gold medals in taekwondo,” added Jones. “It’s been mission impossible so far, and that’s why no-one has managed to do it.

    “But I believe I can be the person to do it and I will leave everything out there. Now that I’m older and after what happened in Tokyo, it’s not expected of me so much. People are starting to write me off. Deep down that gives me more hunger because I feel like I have something to prove again.”

  • Djokovic clear to play US Open as Senate votes to lift COVID-19 restrictions Djokovic clear to play US Open as Senate votes to lift COVID-19 restrictions

    Novak Djokovic looks set to appear at the 2023 US Open after the United States Senate passed a bill to end COVID-19 restrictions.

    The 22-time grand slam champion last competed in the tournament two years ago, losing to Daniil Medvedev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in the final.

    He missed the 2022 edition because he had not been vaccinated against coronavirus, with the USA making vaccines a requirement for international travellers arriving in the country from November 8, 2021.

    Djokovic was also absent for the 2022 Australian Open as he was deported from the country after immigration officials cancelled his visa because of the Serbian's unvaccinated status.

    He returned to Melbourne Park at the start of this year and won a 10th Australian Open title – he will be hoping for a similar impact at Flushing Meadows after his return moved a step closer to reality.

    On Wednesday, the US Senate voted in favour of ending the COVID-19 national emergency declared in March 2020, meaning the bill is now set to be considered by President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign.

    As such, Djokovic will – assuming he is not ruled out for other reasons – be able to compete at this year's tournament, which is due to begin on August 28.

    The news will surely come as major boost to Djokovic, who has already been prevented from entering US-based tournaments in 2023.

    The 35-year-old was denied clearance to enter the US earlier in March ahead of Indian Wells and the Miami Open, with his application for special permission turned down by officials.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.