NAPLES – If any thoughts were creeping into their minds that the Tokyo Olympics might be canceled because of a viral outbreak, elite swimmers Katinka Hosszú, Chad le Clos and Sarah Sjöström certainly didn’t show it during a strenuous two-hour training session Wednesday.
It was only after the three swimmers — who have won 11 Olympic medals between them — stepped out of the pool that they revealed serious concerns over the fate of the games during a series of interviews with The Associated Press.
"For the athletes the best (solution) is just to focus on your preparation. ... I see the news, but in my mind I'm prepared until it's on. So I have to be ready,” said Hosszú, whose nickname is “The Iron Lady.”
“I really can't even imagine having the Olympics canceled. For athletes, it's a nightmare,” Hosszú added. “That's our life — preparing for the biggest event in swimming.”
Tokyo Olympic organizers and the Japanese government responded Wednesday to comments made by former International Olympic Committee vice president Dick Pound, who said the 2020 Games could be canceled if the virus isn't contained.
“Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled,” Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said in an abruptly called a news conference. “For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
More than 80,000 people have been infected and more than 2,700 killed since the viral outbreak began in China — with the bulk of them in that country. Five deaths in Japan have been attributed to the virus.
The Olympics are scheduled to open on July 24.