Ben Ainslie expects athletes set to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be relieved by the postponement.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pushed the Games back by 12 months due to the spread of coronavirus, which has infected over a million people worldwide.

Sailor Ainslie, a four-time Olympic champion, has backed the decision and feels competitors will be grateful for the clarity the switch brings.

He told Stats Perform: "If you were in the IOC's position and Tokyo's position it must have been an incredibly tough decision when you think about the scheduling, the preparations, dare I say it the commercial impact, although that shouldn't really be the main consideration I'm sure it would have been a big consideration.

"The fact they came to a decision relatively early, I think they deserve some credit for that.  

“I think it was absolutely the right decision. It was clearly going to be a massive risk as planned. Then if you look at a six-month delay, you're competing in the middle of the winter in Japan which isn't going to work for a lot of sports, so I absolutely agree with the decision.

"What does it mean for the athletes and competitors? I think most of them, frankly, will just be relieved there's certainty.

"It would have been a massive risk if they'd tried to continue and gambled on the virus clearing away in time for the games.

"So, I think there'll be relief and they'll start now planning what does the next 18 months look like for them in terms of their programme.

"We talk a lot about peaking in sport. They would have all been working up to peaking this summer. Now they are probably going to have to, not take their foot off the gas, but they're going to have to reschedule their programmes to make sure that they're then ramping back up for the games.

"Also, what will the event schedule look like next year? It's unlikely there'll be that many events for the rest of this year, so how do they get their race practice up in 2021?

"So, some challenges there, but if I were an Olympian I'd frankly be bloody relieved they've come to the right decision and it was going ahead still." 

Australia star Andrew Bogut is "still very keen" to play at the Olympics despite the Tokyo Games being pushed back until 2021.

Bogut, 35, was expected to lead the Boomers at the Olympics this year, but the Games have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It led to questions over Bogut's future, but the Olympics remain a goal for the veteran, an NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors in 2015.

"I'm still very keen. Obviously the plans for me were to get to the Olympics this year and then reassess," he told SEN on Thursday.

"That's been thrown out of the window. I'm still up in the air about exactly what I'm going to do and how I go about my journey getting there and all that, I still haven't decided one way or another.

"I think it's going to be a moving parts type thing and I think the main priority right now is to get this pandemic squashed.

"Then, we can all make real-world decisions about our jobs and our families and all that kind of stuff, but until that happens it's kind of senseless to make decisions based on not knowing when the future's going to be open slather again."

Australia have never won a medal in men's basketball at the Olympics, but finished fourth at the Rio Games in 2016.

World Athletics has named Cuba’s Ana Quirot winning gold medals at the 1995 and 1997 World Championships, among 10 of the greatest athletics moments of triumph over adversity.

Following the postponement of this year’s Olympic Games, Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Kelly-Ann Baptiste has revealed that she already has one eye on life after athletics.

Like several others, the 33-year-old many-time national champions was hoping to line up for a chance to claim a historic gold medal for her country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Due to the world being forced to turn their attention to battling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic those plans have now been shelved, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announcing that the games had been moved to next year.

While staying focused on being prepared to take up the challenge when it arises in a year’s time, Baptiste insists she is already focused on her endgames.  Unsurprisingly, the athlete conveyed that she had already begun considering how to best aid in the development of future T&T talent.  Unexpectedly, however, she may also pursue a career in interior design.

“Since the Games have been cancelled (postponed) I am shifting my focus for a while on how best I can serve the younger athletes, while also working and growing my styling and photography business,” Baptiste told Trinidad’s 7pmnews.

“I’ve taken a liking to styling and photographing interiors and hope to establish a career doing so.  I always want to give back to the younger athletes at home and I’m in the process of brainstorming ways that I can.”

Grenadian Olympic gold medallist Kirani James admits to being uneasy over the uncertainly surrounding the rest of the track and field season but does not believe he will be severely impacted by the cancellation of the Olympic Games this year.

After months of deliberation and some amount of hesitance, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the Games would be pushed forward by a year, as the world struggles to come to grips with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For thousands of athletes around the world, the news would come as a hammer blow with months of preparation upended and a year added to a chance to shine at athletics signature events.  For some, already struggling to make a final appearance due to aging, aching limbs it was even a tougher pill to swallow.  The 27-year-old James, who is already a World and Olympic champions, does not fall into that category. 

“I don’t think so (Impacts chance of medaling at next Olympics), at least not right now. It is what it is,” the former University of Alabama sprinter told TideSports.

“It’s not the fault of anything we can control. We just take it as what it is and try our best to prepare. That’s the decision they came to and we have to accept it. We have to prepare as best as we can.”

Like the majority, he believes it was a necessary evil.   

“The way I see it is, for them to postpone it, they’re taking this pandemic very seriously and I’m sure if there was a way where they could keep it for this year, they would have.  Obviously, they exhausted all their options. It is what it is. At the end of the day, safety and health trumps the Olympics every time,” he added.

James won the 400m gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, after claiming gold at the World Championships one year prior.  The sprinter then went on to claim silver behind world-record breaker Wayde van Niekerk at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  James saw his career severely hampered after being diagnosed with Graves' disease.  He has since recovered and was confident things were progressing well for Tokyo before the delays.

“Training was good. It was very consistent, the workouts and everything.  Really it was just gearing up for the start of the season in April. Everything was on track.”

The British and Irish Lions have no concerns that the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympic Games will overshadow the tour of South Africa next year.

It was announced on Monday that the Games in Japan will be staged from July 23 to August 8, 2021 after being postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lions start the three-Test series against world champions South Africa on July 24, with further showdowns to come on July 31 and August 7.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley says kick-off times will prevent sports lovers from missing any of the action.

"Fans should not miss out on any action," said Calveley.

"We are determined to play our part in what will be an extraordinary summer of sport."

He added: "The priority right now has to be the safety and well-being of all those affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"There should not be any direct clashes with Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo.

"We are expecting a fantastic series against the world champions."

The Tokyo Games have been rescheduled to take place between July 23 and August 8, 2021, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has confirmed.

Last week, the Olympics – which were due to start on July 24 – were postponed due to the global spread of coronavirus.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee later clarified the Games would be moved "to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021".

The IOC has now ratified the new dates, while announcing the Paralympics will take place from August 24 to September 5.

In a conference call on Monday, IOC president Thomas Bach said: "I want to thank the International Federations for their unanimous support and the Continental Associations of National Olympic Committees for the great partnership and their support in the consultation process over the last few days.

"I would also like to thank the IOC Athletes' Commission, with whom we have been in constant contact. With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge.

"Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel."

An IOC statement said the decision was based on three main considerations; to protect the health of athletes and support the containment of COVID-19, to safeguard the interests of athletes and of Olympic sport, and the global international sports calendar.

It added the new dates provide health authorities ample time to deal with an ever-changing landscape, while sufficient time will be given to finish qualification processes where necessary.

The IOC said heat mitigation factors as planned for 2020 will also still be implemented.

The President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Mori Yoshiro, said: "I proposed that the Games should be hosted between July and August 2021, and I really appreciate that President Bach, having discussed this proposal with the various international sports federations and other related organisations, kindly accepted my proposal.

"A certain amount of time is required for the selection and qualification of athletes and for their training and preparation, and the consensus was that staging the rescheduled Games during the summer vacation in Japan would be preferable.

"In terms of transport, arranging volunteers and the provision of tickets for those in Japan and overseas, as well as allowing for the COVID-19 situation, we think that it would be better to reschedule the Games to one year later than planned, in the summer of 2021.

"Notwithstanding the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time in history, and various other issues that have already been highlighted, the event schedule is the cornerstone of future preparations, and I am convinced that taking this decision promptly will help speed up future preparations."

The rescheduling marks the culmination of a frantic period.

A little over two weeks ago, Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe and the IOC both insisted there was no need to postpone the Games.

However, the worsening situation of the global spread of COVID-19 soon made such proclamations look extremely premature.

There have been 737,567 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, with 34,998 people having died - as per World Health Organisation figures on Monday.

Charles Barkley established himself as an NBA legend with the Philadelphia 76ers and on this day 19 years ago the team paid tribute to him.

On March 30, 2001, the 11-time NBA All-Star became the seventh 76ers player to have their jersey number retired.

And Barkley is not the only sporting superstar to have made his mark on this date.

Let's take a look back...

 

2001 – Barkley's 34 retired by 76ers

Barkley wore the number 34 with distinction during his eight seasons with the 76ers.

Named MVP in 1993, Barkley was honoured by Philadelphia during half-time of the team's game with the Golden State Warriors.

"My years in Philadelphia were very special to me," Barkley said. "Now, to have my jersey retired, hung next to some of the greatest players of all time ... I consider this an incredible honour."

2001 – Teen sensation Phelps sets world record

Michael Phelps' phenomenal talent was evident from an early age.

At 15, he became the youngest man to set a world record as he clocked one minute and 54.92 seconds in the 200m butterfly in Austin, Texas.

Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time following his retirement after the Rio Games, winning a remarkable 23 gold medals among a total tally of 28.

1954 – Garry Sobers makes his Test debut

Garry Sobers was another teenager whose potential was clear from the outset.

At 17 and listed at nine in the batting order, he made his Test debut for West Indies against England in Jamaica on this day way back in 1954.

Sobers is regarded as the finest all-rounder in the history of cricket, having averaged 57.78 with the bat and 34.03 with the ball in 93 Test appearances.

Naomi Osaka has given her "100 per cent" backing to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and says the "Olympic spirit" is needed to combat coronavirus.

The upcoming Olympic Games were pushed back from 2020 to 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in close to 30,000 deaths worldwide, with more than 645,000 confirmed cases.

The decision was widely welcomed earlier this week, and tennis star Osaka is also on board, even if it means a delay to her hopes of turning out at a home Olympics.

The Japanese two-time grand slam champion wrote on her Instagram page: "I've been thinking about how to articulate my thoughts on this for a couple of days now, so here goes.

"Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate in my home country.

"Of course, I am disappointed that it won't happen this year, but we'll all be ready to go stronger than ever in 2021!

"I support prime minister [Shinzo] Abe's brave decision and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] 100 per cent. Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time is not now.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says track and field must not be afraid to "think bigger" after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed the Tokyo Olympics – which had been due to start in July – has been postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing crisis.

World Athletics has welcomed the decision, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having initially been reluctant to postpone the showpiece event.

It appears inevitable the World Athletics Championship, due to be held in Oregon in August 2021, will be nudged back a year to 2022 as a result.

Though disappointed at the 2020 schedule being hugely affected, Coe suggested there is now an opportunity to reinvigorate athletics.

"When we get through this, and we will, we will be braver and more innovative," Coe wrote in an open letter on Friday.

"We will be more collaborative and resilient. We will be stronger and more tolerant. We will be more global, not less.

"In sport we have a unique opportunity not to tiptoe around things and tweak at the edges. We have the chance to think bigger, to rip up the blueprints and banish the 'that's the way we've always done it' mentality."

Coe added: "The situation the world finds itself in today is a huge wake-up call for all of us – as human beings, as businesses and as sport. We should capitalise on this and work out new ways of delivering events, create and plan new events that embrace the many as well as the few.

"We can use this time to innovate and extend our sport across the year. Rather than just focusing on one-day meetings and one-day road races at one end of the spectrum and 10-day extravaganzas at the other end, we should look at weekend festivals of running, jumping and throwing that take advantage of the southern and northern hemisphere seasons.

"We should work with governments to re-establish sport in schools, rebuild club structures, incentivise people to exercise and get fit. This should and could be the new normal. We don't have to do things the same way.

"The priority for all of us right now is to contain the pandemic, stay healthy and stay home. But where we can continue to drive our sport forward, we must."

Coe also revealed his organisation will do all it can to ensure the outdoor season of one-day meetings goes ahead as soon as it is safe, with Diamond League events having been postponed until at least June.

Nine-time world champion continues to put us all to shame with her altruism.

Athletes are at risk of having their careers cut short if soon-to-be free agents face a prolonged period of unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, warned World Players Association executive director Brendan Schwab.

COVID-19 has brought sport to a standstill across the globe, with the 2020 Olympic Games, major European football leagues, the NBA, MLB and NHL postponed.

Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 have been pushed back to next year amid the fight to combat the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 21,290 lives.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 seasons will resume, raising doubts over the futures of football players – whose contracts are due to expire in June.

The likes of Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva (both Paris Saint-Germain), Willian (Chelsea) and Dries Mertens (Napoli) are all set to become free agents.

As clubs and organisations try to reduce costs amid the economic crisis, Schwab – who works for World Players, which brings together 85,000 players across professional sports through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries – told Stats Perform: "The challenge is to ensure enough liquidity during the shutdown so that the same content can be delivered to fans, broadcasters and brands but over a longer period.

"Existing contracts and regulations such as contract expiry dates and transfer windows will all need to be reformulated which can only be done though collective decision-making involving governments, sports bodies, broadcasters, stadia operators, player unions and civil society. The impact on the sporting schedule will be long-lasting and may take several years to return to normal.

"Seasons just starting – such as MLB, AFL and NRL – have a longer struggle in many ways. Shortened seasons are likely, but it all depends on the length of the shutdown, liquidity and the window available to complete seasons. Sports which own their own infrastructure will have greater flexibility and will be in a stronger position to design solutions.

"The key is collective decision-making, goodwill and long-term thinking, all of which can be difficult during such uncertainty. Many key sports governing, commercial and player contracts have 'force majeure' clauses which may apply in these circumstances. Certain parties may be able to 'cut and run', but that will only worsen the bleeding and make recovery more difficult. We need to bunker down, show we care about our people, fight the pandemic, exercise restraint, save as many jobs and legitimate commercial interests as we can, and re-emerge with a renewed, sustainable and collectively developed economic model.

"Tuesday was the anniversary of the death of arguably football’s most influential figure, Johan Cruyff. He famously said that there is advantage in every disadvantage. That thinking is needed right now."

Schwab added: "Individual players will be impacted differently. The destiny of free agents will depend much on the state of the leagues once the shutdown has been lifted. There is a risk that players coming off contract will face a prolonged period of unemployment if the shutdown continues, which can be career ending.

"The top players should be OK during this period, but remember they are a fraction of players and athletes who work professionally. It is likely that the economic impact of the shutdown will result in a deflated labour market for some time, which will suppress wages even among the viable leagues. For leagues outside the very top echelon, it may be a battle for survival.

"However, sport's essential role in society will be unchanged and may even be renewed and elevated. It will have a critical role to play as the community reunites after the pandemic and we expect a major resurgence in demand. Sport is therefore an important part of government planning, and it is pleasing to see that progressive governments in Switzerland, Sweden and some other countries have included sport in the stimulus packages they are announcing. They will reap a community dividend for doing so even as they balance the essential interests of the broader society and economy."

"[Next year] an intense year for sport as current seasons will now run well into the northern summer and that will require a readjusted schedule in 2021," the Australian executive continued. "The postponement of the Olympics may allow for existing concerns to be addressed including the health and safety impacts of the extreme heat of July-August in Tokyo. These issues all need to be worked through. We shouldn't assume the Olympics are simply put back 12 months. We are consulting with our affiliates about how to approach the shaping of the 2021 sports calendar."

Coronavirus has largely affected the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, but Schwab said: "We have been concerned with some of the heath information being conveyed, including that COVID-19 is a disease that mainly affects the elderly and the vulnerable. Athletes, too, are vulnerable, despite being young and fit. The disease attacks the lungs, and athletes themselves have suffered very severe symptoms which may be long-lasting. There have been fatalities among people between 20 and 44 and young people can transmit the virus even if they don't have symptoms.

"Players have also been forced into quarantine when living away from their families. It is necessary that effective support mechanisms are in place to ensure the mental health and social wellbeing of players as well as their physical health. Our player unions play an essential role here."

Donald Trump is planning to attend what he predicts will be a "fantastic" Tokyo Olympics, despite the delay caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Tuesday that the Games, scheduled to start on July 24, would not go ahead as planned due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made following discussions between IOC president Thomas Bach, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and organisers, though a new date is yet to be announced.

A special task force has been set up to work out the best time to stage the Olympics, though they will be no later than the summer of 2021.

Whenever the Games do take place, United States President Trump – who praised the postponement decision – intends to be there to witness the occasion for himself.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic Olympics, 2021," Trump said during his media briefing on Wednesday.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic Olympics, it was the absolute right decision to delay it for a full year and now have a full, beautiful Olympics.

"It's going to be very important because it's probably the first time maybe ever or certainly in a long time that it was on an odd year, it's always on an even year they tell me, but he's going to have a fantastic success and now they'll have even more time, he didn't need any more time, everything was perfectly ready, what a job they've done.

"I want to congratulate Japan, the IOC and prime minister Abe on a great decision.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic Olympics, I told him I'll be there, I'll be there."

Bach has said "all the options are on the table" when it comes to a new date for the first Olympics to not go ahead as scheduled since the Second World War.

"This is like a huge jigsaw puzzle and every piece has to fit," he said during a conference call. "You take out one piece, the whole puzzle is destroyed.

"Everything has to come together and everything is important. This is why I really do not envy the members of this taskforce in their work."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach described rescheduling the Tokyo Olympics as "like a huge jigsaw puzzle", adding that all options are being considered when it comes to a new start date.

It was confirmed on Monday that the global spread of coronavirus would result in the Games - which had been due to start on July 24 - being postponed.

A statement issued by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee stated the Olympics would be "rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021".

On Tuesday Bach explained a special taskforce had been formed to work alongside the international federations and identify the most suitable date for the Games to now take place.

"The agreement is that we want to organise these Olympic Games at the latest in summer 2021," Bach told reporters on a conference call.

"That means that this task force can consider the broader picture.

"This is not restricted just to the summer months, all the options are on the table before or including the summer of 2021."

Bach added: "We of course also have to take into account the sport calendar around the Olympic Games and many other issues.

"We should come to a solution as soon as possible, but first priority should be the quality of this decision; to really be able to take the input of all the stakeholders into account – the NOCs [national Olympic committees], athletes, partners, and the organising committee is key also in this."

The Games in Tokyo will be the first not to go ahead on time since the Second World War, with Bach acknowledging the new team is in unfamiliar waters.

"This is like a huge jigsaw puzzle and every piece has to fit," Bach explained.

"You take out one piece, the whole puzzle is destroyed.

"Everything has to come together and everything is important. This is why I really do not envy the members of this taskforce in their work."

United States head coach Gregg Popovich is committed to leading Team USA in 2021 after the Olympic Games were postponed due to coronavirus.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the postponement of Tokyo 2020 on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's Games were scheduled to get underway on July 24, but the spread of coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the globe.

However, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said San Antonio Spurs coach Popovich remains committed.

"The commitments everyone made for 2020 are still there; we're all-in and we're committed," Colangelo told ESPN.

"It's important to deal with the unknowns and this virus. This too shall pass, and we'll be back for everyone's well-being."

The rescheduling of the Olympics could impact the NBA, which is already on hiatus.

"We will follow the leader. We have to wait to see how everything is laid out and we'll make the adjustment," Colangelo said. "Our players are NBA players first, let's face that."

Colangelo added: "Changing the window for the NBA is easier said than done. There's a lot of logistics and contracts to deal with. Same for the Olympics. You have to assume it will be around the same dates."

Globally, more than 18,800 people have died from coronavirus, with over 421,360 confirmed cases.

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