Trek-Segafredo's Richie Porte has lent his voice to the chorus of riders giving their thoughts in the aftermath of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government's decision on Tuesday to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, probably until next year.
"With the epidemic that is the coronavirus, I think unfortunately it is the right decision because we [cyclists] are all on home trainers, swimmers can't swim in pools, and all the other athletes are unable to train properly," Porte said on his team's website. "It really makes sense that the decision had to be made.
"We're seeing people dying and, with the increasing the numbers of infection, it's hard to argue that this wasn't the right call," he said.
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"For me, personally, it's a bit disappointing to have planned around riding the events that I had to race to qualify," said Porte, who in an interview with Cyclingnews at the Tour Down Under in January admitted that he was far from a shoo-in for a place on the national squad, despite being arguably Australia's best climber and the Tokyo road race taking place on a tough, hilly course.
"We changed my race programme to do the Ardennes Classics to try to qualify for Australia," the 35-year-old said, referring to April's Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, all of which have been postponed or cancelled. "So it's a big shame, but I can totally understand the rationale behind it."
It remains to be seen how and when athletes not yet qualified will have the opportunity to do so ahead of the postponed Games, and what it means for athletes who have already qualified – including Australia's track cycling athletes – given that the competition could now be, as Cycling Australia performance director Simon Jones said on Tuesday, "16 months away".
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach have agreed that the Olympics will be staged "by summer 2021", and it's widely believed that they will take place roughly 12 months ahead of their original 2020 dates of July 24-August 9.
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