Adam Peaty: “This Is A Matter Of Life Or Death” So Clarity On Tokyo 2020 Welcome

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Adam Peaty - Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty has described the postponement of Tokyo 2020 by a year as the right decision as “this is a matter of life and death” with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wreaking havoc across the world.

Peaty was seeking to become only the second man along with Kosuke Kitajima to successfully defend an Olympic breaststroke title, with the Japanese great having won the 100m and 200m at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Those ambitions were put on hold on Tuesday though when a joint statement by the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 confirmed the postponement of the Games, four months to the day before they were due to start.


Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Peaty issued a statement, saying:

“I don’t think any of us are surprised following the announcement that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed for one year.  It’s the right decision and the only one that could be made at this point.

“As an athlete, I am obviously extremely disappointed but this is more important and bigger than me or any of the athletes that would have been taking part.  This is a matter of life or death and we all need to do the right thing.

“Now I know, I can focus on the here and now and, as soon as it is safe to do so, continue with my training and ultimate goal to represent my country at the Olympic Games. It will happen and when it does we will all be stronger and be able to celebrate what is an extraordinary worldwide event together.

“Thank you to everyone who has shown me so much support and thank you to everyone who is out there providing essential services and care at such a challenging time for us all.  Stay home and stay safe, we are all in this together.”

Our Coverage On A First For Olympic History


Adam Peaty – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The 25-year-old said the athletes could now feel the weight of pressure lifted while simultaneously bearing in mind the health of those who work at training facilities including lifeguards and cleaning and admin staff.

Peaty said:

“With the IOC decision I think a lot of athletes now can breathe. We felt under pressure to train, we felt under pressure to compete because if the Olympics was a few months away we needed to train and then de-train.

“We’d go into those facilities and put other people at risk.

“Having that decision from the IOC has lifted that release – that we don’t need to be in shape in the summer and we don’t need to put that risk on other people.

“We can save those resources for the NHS who really need them.”

Peaty, who is coached at the National Centre Loughborough by Mel Marshall, admitted to a little frustration that the decision didn’t come sooner but had sympathy for the IOC and Tokyo 2020.

“A little bit of frustration but I completely understand.

“For me, I’m not going to go out there and say ‘oh, you took so long or whatever and I’m angry’.

“The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event on the planet and it costs tens of billions of pounds to hold, everyone knows that.

“When you’re talking about shifting it a few months away – and the Japanese have worked incredibly hard at getting all their facilities done even way before the Tokyo Olympics – it’s a big ask to say can you move it another year because it will cost money and will cost people (their) jobs.

“It has such a domino effect on individual contracts with athletes.”


Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

He added:

“We’ve got to work together now – the companies that are involved, the athletes that are involved and spread a positivity that this is for the better – not just of the nation but for the better of the world and humanity.

“We want to be putting on a show in 2021 where we don’t feel guilty performing and we can hopefully inspire people to do better and be better.”

Peaty has not found the burden of speculation too taxing in recent weeks, saying:

“For me it hasn’t been that hard.

“Mel said have a break this week just to see how individual corporations and individual federations reacted and we kind of predicted this would happen.

“When the IOC said four weeks to make a decision, it was like no, that’s too long, way too long because athletes would still be going out there risking the public.

“I’m glad they took this decision right now and I think you’ve just got to get on with it like everyone else really.”

Peaty will be using his time to focus elsewhere rather than on performance and results.

He said:

“I think we’ve got to get through this period without thinking about sport. I think this is a very good time to focus your energy on something else or other people.

“I think that’s the best option to take for me that I can’t be paranoid or anxious about my performance or how much this will affect my performance because I know you need a few months or a few weeks to get back to full fitness anyway.

“So I’ll be using this opportunity to rest, do some things around the house, do something different and kind of enjoy it I guess as much as you can for what it is.

“Be positive. I can’t go and see my mates, I can’t go and see my family because that doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help them, it doesn’t help the rest of the world.

“So for me, I’m just going to do something a little bit different I guess. A little bit of cycling on the turbo trainer, I’ve had a little bit of a gym built in the house so I can still keep up with my physical fitness.

“I think we make it work, athletes make it work and we’re adaptable so this is a good test of who you are as a character, who you are as an athlete and ready to rise to that test and hopefully come out on top.”


Adam Peaty – Olympic immortality in 57.13sec – Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Peaty, who also won silver with the British men’s medley relay quartet at Rio 2016, plans to use his time to prepare to go even faster in Tokyo 2021 after recently telling Swimming World of his quest to lower his own world record of 56.88 with 56.5 in his sights as he continues his journey to be the best version of himself.

“I was targeting this summer to defend my Olympic title, push the world record a little bit, see what we could get but that’s going to be a year delay now.

“I don’t mind the year delay at all, it’s going to happen. As long as it happens I’ve got enough patience to wait it out and train even harder.

“It will just give me even more opportunity to improve, more opportunity to self-reflect and see what I needed doing and thing is, it’s the rest of the world that has that little bit of opportunity.

“So hopefully we’ll all come out on top and a little bit faster to put on an even better show.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson put Britain into lockdown on Monday night with 422 deaths nationwide at the time of writing.

Peaty added:

“I have that respect for those people on the frontline, they are who we are looking up to now who inspire us.

As a country we come together, stay at home and do your bit because as you’ve seen on all the posters, that’s where most of the work is done.

“(If) We can avoid the virus altogether then the less resources we need.”

Peaty also sent a social media post, saying:

“A million things have changed in 4 years but one thing stayed the same, the daily pursuit of olympic glory. Our time isn’t now, it’s time to look after our vulnerable and protect them as much as we can. Excited to have the opportunity to train for #Tokyo2021″

To which his coach Marshall responded, saying:

Proud of u Adz.. we will have our time… but for now let’s do what we need to do for


His Great Britain team-mate Aimee Willmott had long said Tokyo 2020 would be her final Games should she qualify after competing at London 2012 and Rio 2016, where she came seventh in the 400IM.

The Commonwealth champion posted on social media, saying:

“Today, Tokyo 2020 became Tokyo 2021.

“……..and if I’m honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it right now.

“Of course, it wouldn’t be the right decision for the Games to go ahead in July but that doesn’t mean as an athlete I’m not gutted!

“Like many other athletes I’ve been working towards a specific goal and now the milestone has changed.

“The health and safety of athletes, and the rest of the world, is no doubt (the) number 1 priority, but it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that this season (in terms of competition) is pretty much over……and it’s March.

“Stay safe, wash your hands and remember it’s okay not to feel okay in this crazy time.

“#covid-19 #olympics”