Whilst most people have expressed satisfaction with the decision to postpone the Olympics, the effect that it could have on the careers and well-being of some athletes may be profound and, in some cases, mean that their hopes of achieving success on the biggest stage of all may have gone for ever.
Some Olympic hopefuls have already taken to social media to report that they are devastated by the news, whilst others now have some serious soul-searching to do as to whether they carry on or quit.
Across disciplines, many sports men and women have been preparing for the Games for years, with training regimes, fitness programmes and diets all calibrated so that that will be able to produce peak performances during the few weeks in the summer that the Olympics were due to take place. They will now need to be reset, and motivation found again.
For a number of athletes also, the Games were to be the culmination of their time as an elite athlete, with a number of them planning to retire they were finished. Are they willing to make the sacrifices necessary to carry on for a further year? That is not just a mental issue either. Competing at the top level can impose a great strain on the body, and putting another year on the clock in some cases is just not feasible.
And then there is the age factor. In most cases, Olympic sports are competed for by young people. Older competitors may no longer be able to line-up with their younger peers and still have a chance of winning the same medal they would have had if the Games had been taking place this year.
The mental health of some athletes will also undoubtedly suffer. Having prepared themselves psychologically to compete this year, they may find it difficult to process emotionally what has happened. Depression and anxiety is not uncommon amongst top sports performers, and offering them counselling and advice may be needed.
Of course, when the door closes for some, it opens for others. Those who still had not qualified for the Games, or were just short of the required level, may benefit from an extra year’s preparation. And, if some athletes fall by the wayside, and decide to call it quits, then that opens up slots in teams for newcomers to occupy.
Yet, whilst most sports men and women will echo the sentiments of Mary Kom, India’s legendary boxer, who called the postponement “an excellent” decision, a thought should be given to those for whom it spells the end of their Olympics dreams.