Olympics Postponed: Local Olympian shares thoughts on decision


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It has never happened before… until Tuesday when the International Olympic Committee made the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the 2020 Olympics by about one year. 

USD Assistant Director of Track and Field Derek Miles earned a bronze medal in the pole vault in the 2008 Olympics.

Miles competed in the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, including a seventh place finish in Athens in 2004. 

“I think everyone’s Olympic experience is probably individualized and I know each of the three for me were even different.  2008 was a little more business oriented for me,” Miles said. “I was jumping at my best during that year so my focus had shifted from being a tourist so to speak in 2004, to being a little more goal driven.”

Tokyo has been working for a while trying to build and create the stadiums and facilities that are needed for the Olympics. The question is, what does Tokyo do now?

Two women take a selfie with the Olympic rings in the background in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Doping testers around the sporting world are trying to avoid infecting themselves or athletes during the global virus outbreak, and that’s not easy when collecting samples means getting very close to sports stars. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“It’s pretty inspiring to see what goes into a modern day Olympics these days.  The coordination, infrastructure, organization, venue set up etc., it is just mind boggling,” Miles said. “I can’t imagine everything goes exactly according to plan when putting on something like this and if the delay provides the opportunity to guarantee things are executed as they need and should be, then perhaps this takes a little pressure off of the organizers.”

While the city of Tokyo has been working hard to create a unique experience for the athletes, however it is the athletes themselves who have been working and waiting their entire life for a chance to represent their country. 

“I think the difficult part this year was the uncertainty.  With no idea if the Olympics were going to take place and if so what the date might be, compiled by the fact that training facilities were shutting down and no meets were available to prepare for Olympic competition, I would think the postponement might be a slight relief to some,” Miles said.

Inconvenient, that’s how it appears to fans and athletes, but what may surprise m0ost people, is the postponement will answer more questions for the athletes.

“As long as we have set dates that everyone is aware of, then we (athletes) can begin the planning process,” Miles said. “ At the end of the day however, it’s essentially just a reset of last year’s Olympic plans but with more insight on things we might change or do slightly differently to be even more prepared for 2021.”

While it may be disappointing to countries and their fans, Miles knows that this is with the best interests of everyone involved.

“I’m not sure how athletes were going to be prepared for an Olympic games in 3 months with training facilities (tracks, weight rooms, entire facilities) closed, and no meets to fine tune their competitive peaks,” Miles said.

“I think being physically and technically unrefined for an Olympic games with the possibility of very limited fan support during the event would lessen the experience that every athlete dreams of, not to mention the simple health implications of all those involved.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we live and the way we watch sports, however Miles has a little advice.

“We just have to stay committed, positive and creative as we push our way through to the other side,” Miles said.

According to the International Olympic Committee, the specific starting date for the Olympics in 2021 has not been set, but they will start no later than the summer of 2021.

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