The Tokyo Olympic postponement presents challenges to some athletes The Tokyo Olympic postponement presents challenges to some athletes
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The Tokyo Olympic postponement presents challenges to some athletes

    NHK World
    Correspondent
    The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has announced that the 2020 Games will start on July 23, 2021. It will be the first postponement in Olympic history.

    There are still many unknowns about the Games. Reality is slowly sinking in for two of Japan's medal hopefuls.

    "There's a lot of uncertainty. I hope that the environment will change to the point where we can practice and compete," equestrian Oiwa Yoshiaki said.

    The three-time Olympian is aiming to win his first medal in front of a hometown crowd. But the competitions he was scheduled to take part in leading up to the Games have been canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus.

    Oiwa says the one-year delay is not just affecting him. It's also a blow to an equestrian's biggest asset: the horses, who have a narrow time frame to compete at the highest level. "My partners are at their peak right now. Considering their age, the postponement is going to have a negative impact," he says.

    Oiwa Yoshiaki
    Equestrian Oiwa Yoshiaki has competed in the Olympics three times

    Two-time medalist Miyake Hiromi had overcome a series of injuries to try and qualify for the summer Games, which are likely to be the 34 year old's last shot at Olympic glory. She says she was depressed to hear about the delay. She adds that a year is a long time and will have a large impact.

    She said, "I've been able to work so hard because the Olympics were going to be in my home country. I had been counting down the days, and now it will be one more year away. I'll have to sort out my feelings before I can get back to it." But she says she will try to focus on the extra time she now has to prepare to see the delay in a positive way.

    Miyake Hiromi
    Hiromi Miyake won bronze in Rio de Janeiro and silver in London.

    The IOC says the countries, territories and athletes that have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics will be able to keep their spots.

    But more than 40 percent of the expected 11,000 athletes still haven't secured their spots as many Olympic qualifiers have been postponed or canceled due to the spread of the virus. It is unclear when they will get their chance to qualify.

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