The Week That Was: Olympic Postponement Not Considered Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

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Tokyo2020 skyline - Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @RefugeesOlympic

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

Amidst the epidemic that is the coronavirus outbreak going on in China, many events going on in the area have been postponed or cancelled. The Olympic Games, which will begin in 158 days in nearby Tokyo, Japan, have no intention of being cancelled or postponed. It brings back many memories of the Zika virus outbreak that occurred in Brazil four years ago. The Olympic Games in Rio went on without a hitch in those two weeks in 2016.

Brazilian sprinter Gabriel Santos, who was serving a suspension for a failed doping test, was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week and will be eligible to fight for a spot on Brazil’s Olympic team.

Read below the five biggest stories in the Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Caeleb Dressel & Sarah Sjostrom Win 2019 FINA Best Athletes Awards

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Sarah Sjostrom and Caeleb Dressel announced as Swimmers of the Meet at the 2019 World Championships; Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Liz Byrnes, European Correspondent

Caeleb Dressel and Sarah Sjostrom have been named 2019 FINA Best Athletes of the Year.

Dressel enjoyed a record-breaking year during which he won six gold medals and two silver medals at the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, to become the first swimmer to ever win eight medals in a single edition.

The 23-year-old, who is coached by Gregg Troy at the University of Florida, also downed Michael Phelps’ 10-year world record in the 100 fly, cutting 0.32secs to set a new mark of 49.50secs.

It is the second time Dressel has won the FINA award having also been bestowed in 2017 following his stellar achievements at worlds in Budapest, Hungary, where he won seven gold medals.

Sjostrom became the first woman to have won five medals in individual events at a single world championships.

The Swede won the 50m fly for the third time – the first woman to do so – and finished second in the 100 fly and 50 free as well as claiming bronze in the 100 and 200 free.

The 26-year-old was also named overall MVP following the conclusion of the ISL after she helped propel Energy Standard to the team prize following victory in the skins, a back-to-back races which operate on a knockout basis and with the two remaining swimmers racing each other in a head-to-head final.

#4: David Curtiss Breaks Ryan Murphy’s National Independent High School Record in 50 Free

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David Curtiss, right, with Pennington School coach George Ward. Staff Photo

By Matthew De George, Americas Correspondent

When David Curtiss won the 50 freestyle title at the Eastern Interscholastic Championships as a freshman in 19.97 seconds, he already had his eyes on more. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility, the Pennington School sprinter figured, to take that time into uncharted territory in his high school career.

By his junior season, he’s achieved one of the biggest goals.

Curtiss went 19.42 in the 50 free Friday, taking down Ryan Murphy’s eight-year-old national prep record of 19.54.

“Last year, I went a 19.7 and I was like, oh darn, I’m so close,” Curtiss told Swimming World. “Ryan Murphy is one of the best swimmers out there, an Olympian, so that number seemed pretty, pretty far away from me and I didn’t really think I could get it (last year). This year, I had confidence in myself and it paid off.”

The Week That Was #3: Michael Phelps Slams USOC For Silence in Face of His Revelations of Depression

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Michael Phelps on the podium in Rio. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Michael Phelps was ignored by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC, now USOPC after the addition of the word Paralympic in the title) when he opened up about the depression and mental-health issues that dogged him during his career as the most decorated Olympian of all-time, all sports. The most decorated Olympian in history points to the dangers of silence when he says: “I was afraid to say something because I thought I couldn’t.”

In an interview with Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, Phelps is asked how the USOC leadership responded when he revealed the nature and depth of his struggle. Here is how Jenkins describes what happened next:

You would like to believe athletes who wear USA on their chests are better cared for these days, after all the ghastly problems. The trouble is, you can’t. Not after you read Dr. William Moreau’s lawsuit accusing U.S. Olympic committee officials of mishandling mental health issues. And especially not after you call up Michael Phelps and ask him what the leadership’s response was to his revelation that he suffered from depression while he was winning gold medals. The phone line practically burns up with Phelps’s answer.

At first after you pose the question, there is a dead quiet from Phelps. It stretches on and on, until the silence becomes the point. You realize that contained in it is an angry tension like a buzz on the line. Finally, Phelps speaks.

“That’s what I got from them,” he says.

Nothing.

“How long should I stay silent? I can sit here and be silent for as long as you want, because that’s what I got.” – Michael Phelps

#2: Gabriel Santos Cleared by CAS

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Gabriel Santos – Photo Courtesy: CBDA

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Gabriel Da Silva Santos, the young Brazilian sprint swimmer, has been given a green light to compete again free of a doping record by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Santos was served a suspension by FINA after he tested positive for Clostebol, an exogenous anabolic agent on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited Substances List.

Now, the CAS has concluded that he tested positive through no fault of his own, the explanation put down to cross contamination. Santos will now be able to race at Brazilian Championships and trials in search of a berth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Week That Was #1: Olympic Postponement Not Considered Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

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Tokyo 2020 aquatic center – Photo Courtesy: Tokyo2020

By Dan D’Addona

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are not considering postponement of the Games despite the cancellation of a large number of test events and major championships in many sports as a result of the coronavirus spreading through parts of China and into other countries.

Nearly 1,400 people have been killed by this coronavirus and 64,000 more have been infected in China alone.

Several international events set to take place in China and surrounding countries have been postponed, including the Chinese Grand Prix Formula One race and the World Indoor Championships of track and field. Three LPGA events and a skiing World Cup event in Asia have been canceled as has the Diving World Series event that was scheduled for Mary 7-9 in Beijing.

As of Friday, 42 sporting events have been either postponed or cancelled.

The Olympics are not on that list.

“I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered,” Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said at a press conference on Thursday.

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