The Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, Adam Peaty, has insisted he is “very hopeful” the Games will go ahead this summer after being named in Team GB’s squad for Tokyo. Peaty’s comments were echoed by the British Olympic Association chairman, Hugh Robertson, who said he was “as confident as I can possibly be” that the Tokyo Games will go ahead despite the spiralling number of coronavirus cases in Japan.
Speculation over the rescheduled Olympics has intensified in recent days with the London 2012 chief executive, Sir Keith Mills, warning that the Games were “unlikely” to take place in a global pandemic. However Peaty, who recently broke his own world record, and Robertson have reiterated the BOA’s belief in Tokyo’s ability to stage a complete Games.
Peaty, who was one of the first four swimmers named in the Team GB squad, alongside Olympic medallist Duncan Scott and world medallists James Wilby and Luke Greenbank, said he was confident he would be able to defend his 100m breaststroke title.
“I’m very happy to make the Olympic team – it’s always a huge pride and honour to represent my country in what I do best,” he said. “There is a lot of work to do from now until then, but I’m very hopeful the Olympics will go ahead and it’ll see continued success for Team GB.”
Meanwhile Robertson insisted that “any talk of cancellation and postponement is not what we are hearing”.
“Everything that I’m hearing at the moment is that there is a total determination on behalf of the IOC, organising committee and NOCs [National Olympic Committees] around the world to stage these Games and our athletes unanimously want to go,” he added. “So I am as confident as I possibly can be that these Games will go ahead.”
Robertson’s comments mirror those of Team GB’s chef de mission, Mark England, who told the Guardian last week that it was “full steam ahead” for the Olympics – and with packed stadiums.
However, concerns are growing after Japan declared a state of emergency across Tokyo last week. The number of coronavirus patients with severe symptoms across Japan also topped 1,000 for the first time on Monday and hit a record high for the 16th straight day, according to the Japanese health ministry, and opinion polls suggest support for the Games is dwindling among the local population.
Meanwhile Chris Spice, Team GB’s swimming team leader, has revealed that the pandemic had caused difficulties for some of his swimmers. “Some of our Olympic hopeful’s training environments are compromised right now and I feel desperately sorry about that,” he added. “We continue to work hard to ensure our current elite athlete group can train, but our thoughts are also with those who cannot access water at the moment.”