World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has been blown away by performances on the track and field at Tokyo 2020 and thinks the lack of fans may have helped athletes hit new heights.
World and domestic records have been tumbling on track and field in Tokyo with new standards set in the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles.
Coe admitted he wasn’t always confident the Games could go ahead, but paid tribute to the athletes for rising to the occasion.
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“I think they’ve been incredible,” he told Eurosport.
We’ve seen some performances here where you really have to be excited for the athletes. I think the athletes are excited about being here.
“It’s been a fairly delicate birth if you think about it. Even at Christmas it was beginning to look a bit questionable again.
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“But I think we’ve done everything we could to get the athletes here and they’ve repaid us in interest.”
Because of the coronavirus crisis in Japan, fans have been banned from attending events meaning athletes have performed in front of empty stadiums.
Team members have been doing their best to create an atmosphere for competitors, but Coe thinks the absence of supporters might have worked in athletes’ favour rather than held them back.
“Unlike most sports, our season doesn’t finish here. We’ve got diamond league, we’ve got the world Under-20s in Nairobi,” he explained.
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“Because of the way the calendar has been recalibrated, we’ve got a world championships next year and we’ve got another one in 2023.
“We’ve got arguably 24 months of track and field being centre stage and we should make the most of it.
I think the athletes are going to relish that having been out of competition for some time.
“It’s been a challenge here because if you think about it, they started without fans in the stadium when we got the competitions back.
“Then they started get used to a third of a stadium being full and then of course there are no fans here.
“It clearly hasn’t impacted dramatically, if anything it’s worked out the other way.”
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