‘It’s going to be energetic enough’: Despite no fans at Olympics, athletes prepared more than ever
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - While spectators may be banned from the Tokyo Olympics, some coaches believe the athletes will do just fine with or without fans.
Despite the lack of bodies in the stands, Team USA is still managing to stay upbeat about the Tokyo Olympics.
“Hearing from our Olympian Townley Haas out there and hearing what they’re communicating... it sounds like it’s a very positive vibe, doesn’t sound like anyone is looking at it in a negative way,” said NOVA Aquatics head coach Norm Wright.
Wright said this should not be a big change for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team.
“We’ve got a young Olympic team this year, a lot of young high school athletes that have made the team, or college athletes, but no college venues had any spectators,” Wright said.
Nearly all professional swim competitions and college meets during 2020 and the early part of 2021 were fanless.
Swimmers doing just fine without the extra energy from the crowd, according to Wright.
“When you think about swimmers specifically, you spend a lot of time face down in the water with your own thoughts,” Wright said. “They’ve been practicing swimming by themselves, especially during the pandemic.”
The decision to ban fans comes as Japan declared a state of emergency after COVID-19 cases in Tokyo hit a two-month high.
International attendees were barred months ago. Initially, organizers hoped to allow venues to fill to 50 percent capacity with local fans, but now seats will sit empty for the duration of the Olympics.
Japan’s prime minister said the state of emergency will run through Aug. 22, two weeks after the conclusion of the games.
“I think when they pack the stadiums for the opening ceremonies, which we’ve always seen before, and you get to walk out in front of a massive crowd... there is going to be a level of energy that’s going to have to be intrinsic,” Wright said.
Not everyone is excited about the changes. Many fans taking to social media to share their thoughts.
“No fans in stands no #Olympics2021 on my TV,” wrote one person.
Some people calling it “reckless” to still hold the Olympics with everything going on.
Despite the varying opinions, Wright believes the athletes are as focused as ever.
“It’s going to be the responsibility of the coaches to get them excited and then the athletes obviously,” he said. “The fact we’re having a games, I think it’s going to be energetic enough.”
The Olympic Committee makes nearly 75% of its income off broadcasting rights, and canceling the games would result in a loss of $3 billion to $4 billion.
Opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled for Friday, July 23.
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