Japanese Olympic Trials To Be Held Without Spectators & With A Shortened Schedule

Daiya Seto of Japan celebrates after winning in the men's 400m Individual Medley (IM) Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 28 July 2019.
Daiya Seto: Photo Courtesy: PATRICK B. KRAEMER

The Japanese Olympic swimming trials are to be held without spectators and the programme condensed in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The national championships, which double as trials for Tokyo 2020, were due to be held from 1-8 April but the Japan Swimming Federation has announced they will now take place from 2-6 of that month although the details of the scheduled have yet to be published.

They also noted that further action may be taken should the situation deteriorate further.

The announcement comes with the Olympic Games, due to be held from July 24 to August 9, ever more under threat.

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach suggested on Friday the IOC will follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on whether to cancel or postpone the Games.

The action taken by the Japan federation follows the cancellation of a swathe of events across all continents and a  statement from Aoki Takeshi, the federation president, read:

“We express our sincere condolences to the people and their families who died from this new coronavirus infection. I pray that all affected individuals will recover as soon as possible.

“The Japan Swimming Federation considers the status of efforts to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus in society as a whole, and, above all, gives top priority to the safety of athletes, family members, stakeholders, and everyone else.

“We have decided to hold the 96th Japan Championship Swimming Competition, which also serves as a selection competition for the Olympic Games (Tokyo Olympics), with no spectators.

“Athletes, families and stakeholders who have been preparing for this tournament, and swimming fans who have been looking forward to it, will be very inconvenienced and worried. Thank you for your understanding.

“Athletes, this tournament also serves as a representative selection for the 32nd Olympic Games (Tokyo Olympics).

“Races without cheering are difficult for the athletes to organise their feelings, but their families and stakeholders who have supported them so far, and fans watching on TV, please take your voice into your heart and swim with all your energies for the Tokyo Olympics.

“At this time, which can be said to be a national difficulty, although the competition is held without spectators, the Japanese swimming community will work together to implement this tournament and support athletes aiming to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.  “We believe that the swimming of the competitors will be the driving force to regain the vitality and energy of the world, so we will do our best to run the competition.”

Australia, China, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil and Japan have all had major meets affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while in the United States, the NCAA Championships have been cancelled and USA Swimming has imposed a 30-day suspension on all events, while Canada is considering what to do about its Olympic trials early next month. In Italy, where swimmers are struggling to maintain normal routines, can’t get to practice and in some cases find pool time, a #stopolympics campaign was launched by the Nuoto website calling on solidarity among swimming nations to recognise that Olympic preparations have been blown off course and that it would be in the interests of fairness to postpone the Games for a time of calm beyond the coronavirus crisis. 

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2 comments

  1. Caleb Cohen

    Per my son, who was expecting to qualify for trials in short time, and myself, who already has 4 tix, hotel & airline to the meet…

    Limit the meet to top 32 in each event, no fans, only immediate family, timed finals over 4 or 5 days – at an existing fast pool (i.e. indy) so as to avoid expense of build temp facility in Omaha.

    Thoughts?

  2. Mike McCluhan

    Id be willing to bet 2020 Olympics will be at least postponed, but most likely cancelled.