First concerned, Quebec athletes are not immune to rumors of cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. Overview of a group on the teeth.
Katerine Savard was at the osteopath when she received the interview request on Tuesday noon. Topic: uncertainty surrounding the presentation of the Tokyo Olympics. “Did we learn anything new?” », Replied the swimmer in the minute.
For some time now, Savard has not stopped turning the scenarios in his head. “I am very aware that a cancellation is possible,” said the one aiming for a third qualification. All athletes are aware of this right now. ”
The proliferation of “rumors” is a continual source of anxiety, admits the 27-year-old athlete. In his training group, reduced to a minimum, everyone “is a little irritable”. “It gets heavy. ”
On the strength of an anonymous government source, the prestigious British daily The Times announced last week that the decision not to hold the Games has already been made by Japan, who will only look for the right time to confirm it without losing face. The country would try to obtain from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the next available dates, in 2032.
The day before, Savard had learned by email that the entire Olympic selection process of Swimming Canada (SNC), already modified, was downright interrupted. Were the two elements related? “I started to panic a bit. ”
The next day, the IOC “categorically” denied the information put forward by The Times. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) deferred to the IOC and the local committee, reiterating its “confidence that the Games can be held successfully and safely”. For its part, SNC said that the Olympic and Paralympic trials in reduced format, scheduled for the beginning of April, were postponed from May 24 to 28.
“It gives a little hope, said the bronze medalist from Rio, back from a massage. It was my last big swimming dream to do the Olympics. I hold on to this and hope deep down that they will take place. ”
Meaghan Benfeito also received the headline of the British newspaper as “a shock”.
“I looked at my boyfriend and I laughed,” said the Montreal diver. I wasn’t sure I understood what was going on. It was coming out of nowhere. We had heard nothing [à ce sujet] for a while. It took two or three minutes before I really started to cry. ”
The three-time Olympic medalist questioned herself: “Am I going to training tomorrow? What I’m doing with my life ? ”
Her boyfriend helped her put things in perspective, advising her to focus on what she could control, which was her preparation. Since then, Benfeito continues to move forward, crossing his fingers and making the promise to no longer trust “rumors”.
“It’s going to be important to know that articles like this are coming out in the next few months,” she noted. As long as it does not come from the IOC, we must not read them or let them go. Those are [les dirigeants] of the IOC who will give the answer. ”
Laurence Vincent Lapointe prefers to approach the ambient uncertainty with philosophy.
“I don’t think it changes anything because it’s uncertain from the start,” said the canoeist after a training session on Vancouver Island. The pandemic, we do not know if it will last another month, two months, a year or two years. On the contrary, I think it’s good that we are able to tell ourselves that if it gets out of hand, we won’t try to do something that goes against the security of the world. I prefer that we are realistic. ”
The arrival of vaccines against COVID-19 makes him believe that the presentation of the Games next summer is “achievable”. It is therefore preparing for it accordingly. On the other hand, she assures that she would live a cancellation with serenity, even if she had to withdraw before the next ones, in 2024. Her 13 world titles and her 3 records already allow her to be satisfied with her career.
“If I couldn’t go, I would feel like I just wasn’t due”, she said before adding: “If it doesn’t happen, it’s okay. . Olympics, there will be others. This is not the end of the world. ”
The months of anguish that followed her positive doping test, from which she was cleared, may have prepared her for such a situation, agreed Vincent Lapointe. “I think it helped give me a little perspective. ”
“It annoys me a little …”
Antoine Valois-Fortier admits that this type of news adds “stress and anxiety among athletes”. “Especially since it is a credible source like the Times, who is used to checking his belongings ”, underlined the judoka, on the last day of forty which followed his return from the Doha Masters Tournament.
“It annoys me a bit because I feel like people are answering a question that no one knows the answer to. Basically, no one knows, not even the people from the IOC or the Japanese government. ”
Like Dominick Gauthier, leader of B2Dix who published a column on the Radio-Canada site, Valois-Fortier advocates patience and wants the final decision to be made as late as possible.
“I remain focused on my plan and I do not deviate from it, that’s for sure,” concluded the three-time world medalist. I prepare myself as if there is no doubt in my head that there will be a Games. When there is a definitive answer, we will manage accordingly. ”
Florida, “is it serious? ”
The four athletes interviewed reacted with skepticism to the Florida state finance official’s offer to host the Olympics if Tokyo backs down. “I wrote to Nico to tell his children to pack their bags because they were going to Disney World next summer!” “Antoine Valois-Fortier joked, referring to his trainer Nicolas Gill. “I didn’t see her coming, that one. Applying for six months from the Games, I’m not sure what I think! It is serious ? Jimmy Patronis, the official in question, says he sent a letter to the IOC extolling Florida’s organizational capacity in the context of the pandemic. Meaghan Benfeito displayed the same surprise: “I believe more in Tokyo’s chances than in the United States. “Same story with Laurence Vincent Lapointe, to whom this idea seems” unrealistic “. “Gone there, you might as well cancel them. “Katerine Savard wonders if a” billionaire “would not be ready to hold a one-off event to bring together the best athletes on the planet, even if it means spreading out the competitions of each discipline over time:” Just to have the opportunity to represent the country one last time, be in a performance environment. ”