Gemma Howell backs Olympic Games delay
Olympic hopeful Gemma Howell has backed the decision to postpone this year’s Tokyo Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, which had been due to get under way on July 24, will not now take place in 2020, but will happen no later than the summer of 2021.
Shropshire judoka Howell is battling fellow Brit Sally Conway for the one Team GB spot at the sporting spectacular.
And her hopes of overtaking Conway in the qualification battle had been hit after the cancellation of the Grand Slam in Russia and Grand Prix competitions in Turkey and Georgia.
“I’m happy. The health of family and friends is more important than anything and that would have been a worry,” said Howell, from Telford.
“I think I’ll qualify but I have to be ahead of Sally and with those competitions gone they were lost opportunities to overtake her.
“We don’t know how it’s going to work but it means I’ll get a chance and that’s all I can ask for.
“Right now we’re in our back gardens training and obviously you can’t achieve what you would at the (Judo) centre every day.”
The decision to delay was praised in a joint statement from the British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association and elite sports funding body UK Sport, who said athletes’ ability to train and prepare had been ‘compromised irreparably’ by the virus.
BOA chief executive Andy Anson said: “It is with profound sadness that we accept the postponement, but in all consciousness it is the only decision we can support.
“It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation and the world no less is enduring great hardship. A postponement is the right decision.”
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