Editorial: Heartbreak for Tokyo 2020

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Once every four years, the best athletes in the world represent their countries in the Olympic games. 

Young athletes have trained their entire lives to compete in the Olympics. Playing harder, running faster, practicing longer, starting earlier, staying later and focusing better. In short, they take their raw talent and, through grueling and unrelenting long-term effort, they transform that natural talent into the specialized skills that qualify these athletes to compete in the Olympics. 

Over months and years, a swing of momentum builds up, and blood, sweat and tears accumulate as these athletes approach their peak of performance. 

Now, seemingly out of nowhere, only months before the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, a pandemic has swept the world, and officials have decided to suspend the games. 

While the idea of postponing the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo to summer 2021 is a fine alternative for fans given the circumstances, it is certainly not the same for the athletes.

A major part of competing at such a high level is keeping one’s mental health intact, especially with so much pressure, based on their dreams, ambitions, sponsorships and endorsements, and overall expectations riding on their performance. 

For years, Olympic athletes have had to be fully disciplined and live a structured life as they work toward the games. They have had a performance date in mind, and all the work they put into preparing is structured around that date.

Athletes have to prepare physically and psychologically so they feel like they are at their best leading up to the games. At the same time, they must avoid getting too amped up to the point where they might burn out. That’s a lot of pressure. 

Now, they face a completely unanticipated obstacle — the postponement of the games for another year, adding another layer of physical training and psychological preparation into the mix. 

The athletes will have to endure an additional year of strict and disciplined daily schedules. 

The 2021 Olympic games will be a testament to how badly these athletes want to achieve their goals of winning a medal. 

COVID-19 has established obstacles of one kind or another in all of our lives. For some people, the virus has had very little effect on their line of work and, for others, the virus has significantly impacted their lives. 

It is important to remember, however, to put things into perspective. Maybe the 2021 Olympics can be less about pressure and more about a celebration of victory — a celebration of the world coming together to ultimately defeat the virus, and unifying us as human beings who aren’t competing, but are actually cooperating with each other against a common obstacle. 

For Olympic athletes, who will compete in 2021 against each other, their competition will hopefully be in celebration of the world having successfully defeated an enemy we all share.

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