As of July 26, the Paris Olympics are only four years away, and even though there’s still a year until Tokyo 2021, there’s a very real chance that the next Summer Games we watch will be in France in 2024. This would be unfortunate, but if it ends up being the case, it will be for a good reason, and it will be in the best interest of public health in Tokyo and the world as a whole. A lot can change in a year, and we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves with the possibility of a Tokyo 2021 cancellation, but here are some of the things we’ll miss out on if next summer’s Olympic Games cannot be held as planned.
Dopers get a freebie
The race season may have been on hold for the past few months, but there have still been many doping suspensions and bans given to runners since the start of the pandemic. As sad as it is to find out that so many athletes are doping, it’s encouraging to see the Athletics Integrity Unit pulling its weight and charging individuals as necessary. Many of the runners who have been banned this year will miss the Tokyo Games, but if the entire event is cancelled, then these athletes may get the chance to compete in 2024 without having missed an Olympic opportunity.
Kipchoge’s medal defence
Defending Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge has publicly stated that he still intends on racing in Tokyo next summer to defend his gold medal, but if the Games are cancelled, it seems highly unlikely that he’ll toe the line in Paris in 2024. Kipchoge will reportedly turn 36 this November, although many people believe that he is even older than recorded. In four years, he’ll be fast-approaching 40 years old, and although he’s done the impossible before, it’s hard to believe that Kipchoge will be able to compete with the next generation of runners at that age.
It’s bad enough to see young athletes who miss a shot at their first trip to the Olympics, but it’s even worse when it comes to older athletes. If the Tokyo Games aren’t run as planned, many athletes will miss their prime years to qualify for the Olympics or race for a medal. After dedicating years of hard work to get to the start line in Tokyo, an event cancellation would be hard to accept.
Semenya’s shot at the 200m
South African 800m world and Olympic champion Caster Semenya has said she is going to try to qualify for Tokyo in the 200m. With a PB of 23.49, a significant chunk of time behind the Olympic standard of 22.80, the Tokyo 2020 postponement was probably good news for Semenya as it gave her a full year to lower her time. But at 29 years old, Semenya will be well into her 30s by the 2024 Games. She’s an incredible athlete, and it’s hard to count her out for sure, but running a sprint event in the Olympics at 33 years of age is a tall order, and if Tokyo 2021 is cancelled, she might not get a shot to prove herself in the Olympic 200m.