Chad le Clos Has Tokyo 2020 Doubts After Hasty Exit From Turkey

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Chad Le Clos: Photo Courtesy: Arena and La Presse

Four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos had just 36 hours to leave his training base in Gloria, Turkey, and now doubts Tokyo 2020 will go ahead as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues its deathly march.

Le Clos, who won 200m butterfly gold at London 2012 when he touched out Michael Phelps at the Aquatics Centre, had planned to spend up to seven weeks at the Energy Standard training base after a camp in Italy was cancelled.

However, Le Clos’ plans were thrown into chaos when he was informed he would have to leave Turkey as the country took measures including a lockdown for people over 65 and those who are particularly vulnerable as well as the suspension of flights to 68 countries.

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Chad le Clos: Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The quadruple world champion returned to Cape Town from where he spoke to South Africa’s Sunday Times.

He said:

“On Monday the plan was to stay six, seven weeks (in Turkey). Suddenly, the country is going into lockdown and hotels are probably going to be closed. We had 36 hours to get out.

“Luckily I got tickets the same night. It’s such a whirlwind. One minute you’re training hard, everything’s gone great, and then you have to leave.”

While Le Clos has pool access at the moment, the only certainty at the moment is uncertainty.

“There’s no real plan going forward. I have no coach, no training partners. I could be stuck here until the Olympics.

“If they shut the gyms here, I don’t have a plan B (for a pool). It’s scary. I’ve spoken to some guys literally stuck in their homes. They can’t do training.

“I was told Penny Oleksiak, the Canadian Olympic champion, hasn’t swum in 20 days in Toronto.”

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The 27-year-old urged fellow athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games – which are due to start on 24 July – and to be ready for any eventuality.

“I urge everyone to focus as if the Olympics is going to happen. If it gets postponed all the hard work you’ve done will continue to whenever it’s held.

“Don’t take your foot off the accelerator, don’t make the mistake of thinking it might not happen, because if it takes just one percent off you, you lose out big time.”

 

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