The Olympic Games: Cancellations and Controversies Collide in Summer 2020

JessicaBrusnahan

web olympicThe Olympic Games are a highly anticipated event for many sports fans.  Watching the greatest athletes in the world compete at the highest level gives a thrill like no other. Nothing compares to the enormous feeling of pride upon seeing someone from your country win big. 

However, coronavirus has had a way of changing a lot of plans. In March 2020, when the virus first began to spread, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) just planned to postpone the games. However, when March, April and May presented large surges in coronavirus cases, the IOC decided to definitively push back the 2020 Summer Olympics to  summer 2021, in late July through early August. IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo explained that these decisions were made in order “to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” as quoted on olympic.org. 

Senior and competitive swimmer Rylee Trojan was beyond excited to see her favorite athletes in-person at the Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha and on television at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. “I think it was pretty disappointing hearing that the Olympics were going to be postponed, especially since there were so many people preparing for them,” Trojan said. Yet, she also understands the dangers of such a crowd-gathering event amidst the pandemic. “I think there will be little to no spectators allowed and social distancing rules in place [at next summer’s Olympic Games],” she said. Even though this will be a drastic change from what the world of sports has known, Trojan is optimistic that between now and next summer there will be new research and a decline in coronavirus cases. She, like so many other fans, wants to see the Olympics continue as planned to give all athletes the full, wonderful experience of competing (and possibly even winning) for their country. 

Fans weren’t the only ones disappointed by the cancelled competition. Athletes and coaches alike are struggling to find ways to stay motivated for another grueling year of training (after four already). One such athlete is Mr. Jordan Burroughs, a former University of Nebraska (and now professional) wrestler. A four-time world champion in his weight class and Olympic competitor for over 10 years, Burroughs had high hopes for 2020. His coach, Mr. Mark Manning, head of Nebraska’s wrestling program, was just as disappointed as Burroughs and his other athletes when he heard that the Olympics would be postponed for a year. “We were crushed, but we knew it was just a setback and we would make adjustments,” Manning said. 

Thankfully Burroughs and many of the other athletes were able to work with the change of plans and stay focused on their goals. While a deep love for the sport is necessary for elite-level athletes to perform at their best, the hardest thing to maintain in these tough times is motivation. Part of Burroughs’ success story comes from his consistency: he is willing to put in the work and commit physically and mentally to achieve his goals. So while his accolades make him one of the most decorated Olympians of all time, what may be even more impressive is his faith in and passion for wrestling despite the unknowns of today. 

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