By Philip O’Connor
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Athletes are still doing their best to train for the Tokyo Olympics but it is looking increasingly unlikely that the Games will take place as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, former Olympic champion Christian Olsson, who is now a sports agent, has told Reuters.
Olsson won gold in the triple jump at the Athens Games in 2004 and since hanging up his spikes in 2012 he has moved into management. He now looks after a thriving stable of track and field athletes, including pole-vaulting sensation Armand Duplantis.
“If you ask me today, I’d say with the information flow that we’re getting and all the information that we have, I would say that it’s very doubtful that the Olympic games would take place in Tokyo,” he said in an interview.
“Hopefully, if the IOC and the Swedish Olympic committee and other people like the Tokyo organising committee have more information and are maybe seeing more signs that we are heading in a more positive direction, then they will take place, but I would say no at the moment.”
Duplantis, who set the track and field world alight by twice breaking the world record earlier this year, is back in America, where he was born to a Swedish mother and an American father, and is still training as if the Games will go ahead, Olsson revealed.
“He’s back in the States in Louisiana, training pretty much as he should be, normal practices. You can already train outside there, so he’s not doing anything that he shouldn’t be. They can be by themselves … just a few days ago you could see him posting something on Instagram,” he said.
With the competitive calendar almost entirely wiped out for the coming months, the uncertainty is bound to have an affect on athletes who have their sights set on Tokyo.
“As an athlete you’re usually in a situation where you have a huge focus for the season – the Olympic Games, the World Championship, the European Championships – and your focus is like a laser beam on that. Now it’s still going to be the focus, but there are more factors that are a part of it, and that I think is going to affect all the athletes,” Olsson said. Together with his partners at JRS Sports Management, Olsson also looks after the careers of a number of Olympic hopefuls such as Norway’s middle-distance running trio of Ingebrigtsen brothers, along with athletes from Great Britain, Germany and Qatar.
“I think many of them have concerns about it, they’re getting the same information flow from media as we do, they see other sports events are being canceled or postponed, but I guess, having been an athlete myself, they know that everybody has the same situation, so if the Olympic Games take place, it’s the athletes who will handle it the best, who will do the best with the situation.
“But of course, it’s going to affect them. There’s so much around you, people getting sick, businesses struggling, restaurants, hotels, everything, so you’re being reminded of that on a daily basis,” Olsson said.