Welsh Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls have been primed to expect a very different experience in Tokyo in 2021 – but still a special one.
As the likes of Jade Jones, Aled Davies, Melissa Courtney, Owain Doull, Natalie Powell, Lauren Price and other Great Britain prospects reflect on a hugely disrupted 2020, they will be optimistic that 2021 brings brighter days.
The International Olympic Committee have resolved to do everything they can do to ensure the Games goes ahead next July.
But as the global coronavirus pandemic continues, the only real certainly is that if the Games does take place – a year after its original date in the calendar – it will be a very different type of event.
Any budding young athlete hoping the Olympics might mean a chance to hang out with the Jamaican sprint team in the athletes’ village restaurant, or an invite to the Brazilian beach volleyball team’s after-match party, are likely to be disappointed.
In and out
This Games will be smaller, tighter, more controlled. It will be less about hanging out and more about in-then-get-out.
But Brian Davies, Sport Wales’ director of sport, insists: “While Tokyo will be a very different Olympic Games, it will still be special to those who attend.
“They will still have memories; they will still have world class competition with the eyes of the world on them. But it is going to be different to anything we have seen before.”
The IOC have yet to outline their complete schedule, but it seems inevitable both the Games and the Paralympics will operate a somewhat reduced version, with likely fewer athletes and potentially fewer events.
That appears inevitable, once the committee declared earlier this month that the athletes’ village would more of a holding pen for athletes just about to compete, rather than a traditional base for the entire duration.
“The schedule will be interesting,” says Davies. “What events will be when and, crucially, which events may not be taking place.
“Unless the Games period is extended – which is every unlikely – then they can’t operate in the way they need to and also have everything they had planned on having.