If Tokyo Games Canceled, Swimming Australia Planning on Backup Event

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

If Tokyo Games Canceled, Swimming Australia Planning on Backup Event

Swimming Australia’s newly elected president and Olympic legend Kieren Perkins has revealed that the country’s most successful Olympic sport is preparing its National team to swim on in 2021 – Tokyo or no Tokyo.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Perkins, early into his new role presidential role , has told The Weekend Australian that his organisation had begun investigating what kind of alternate event could be staged for the Dolphins team if the Games are called off.

Kieren Perkins 1500m freestyle 1992 Barcelona

BARCELONA GOLD: Kieren Perkins greets the judge in the 1500m in Barcelona in 1992. Photo Courtesy Hanson Media Collection (Russell McPhedran).

Perkins told Chief Sports Writer Wayne Smith on Friday that while his organisation was delighted with the International Olympic Committee’s announcement, that the Games would proceed, it had begun to explore the possibility of staging a real or virtual “replacement Olympics” if that became necessary.

The Australian Olympic Committee yesterday supported assurances by the IOC and the Japanese government that the Games would proceed despite the current COVID state of emergency in Tokyo – which pleased Perkins and team leader, triple Olympian Cate Campbell.

Perkins told The Weekend Australian: “We have started discussions and this is where the conversation is after today’s little moment of panic … our athletes will be ready.

“We are preparing on the basis that this is happening so our swimmers will be ready, our trials are going ahead (in Adelaide in June). If the Games themselves are cancelled, what can we do to take advantage of the fact that our athletes are ready?

“It is an open question…. whether we run our own meet or maybe we could do a virtual meet with some of our major competition. It is an open question mark at the moment but we will prepare and have alternate plans.

“If the worst happens and Tokyo is cancelled, for our athletes who have had the opportunity to prepare and work so hard for so long to get to this moment, I think it behoves us to give them the best chance to at least test themselves and see what that work has created.”

MY JOB IS TO SWIM: “Until I hear definitively, differently, it’s full steam ahead,” says Cate Campbell. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Campbell told The Weekend Australian, “You have to work with the information that you have at hand.

“Ultimately my job is to swim and I cannot control what goes on behind the scenes and I have to trust that there is a team of people who are a lot smarter than I am and who probably have even more at stake than I do, that want to make sure that these Games go ahead. That is the premise I am working off.”

Campbell told Smith that although she is thinking of little else this year but the Tokyo Games going ahead in July, Campbell has said she almost certainly would extend her career an extra three years to the 2024 Paris Olympics if the Japanese event is abandoned.

And on President Perkins plans?

“I think one of the benefits of having an ex-athlete as our current president is that he thinks of things like that,” said Campbell.

“So it is a wonderful idea. Will it be the same? Absolutely not. But it is something worth exploring and asking athletes if it is something they would like to do, absolutely. And it is great to see that Swimming Australia is already thinking on … I won’t say worse case contingency plans…. I’m going to say it’s lower than worst case contingency plans.”

The Australian Olympic Swimming Trials are set down for the SA Aquatic And Leisure Centre, Adelaide from June 12-17, 2021