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Olympics postponed until 2021: What does it mean for Team GB?

Olympics postponed until 2021: What does it mean for Team GB?

24/03/2020 at 16:28Updated 24/03/2020 at 21:50

The biggest sports story of modern times? We look at what the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics could mean for Team GB.

What happened?

Tokyo 2020 will be postponed until 2021 as the coronavirus continues to sweep across the globe.

The decision was announced following a phone call between International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

"We asked President Bach to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and to make the event a safe and secure one for spectators," Abe said moments before the announcement. "President Bach said he is in agreement 100 per cent."

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It’s the first time the Games have been delayed in its 124-year modern history, although they were cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during the world wars.

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will also be postponed until next year.

So when will the Games take place?

As yet, no official dates have been announced with a press release simply saying the Games would happen "no later than summer 2021".

However, it will still be called Tokyo 2020 – with the delay set to send costs spiralling, the sensible option has been taken to stick with the current branding.

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How could this impact Team GB?

There will inevitably be Olympic champions in 2021 that wouldn’t have a hope of triumphing in 2020. And vice versa.

After disappointing showings at recent world championships, notably in athletics and track cycling, British sport has another year to shake things up.

Can they rediscover their edge in the velodrome after a horror showing in Berlin yielded just one individual title? Much will depend on the return to form of golden couple Laura Kenny and Jason Kenny, who now have an extra 12 months to get their comebacks right after a difficult start to 2020.

Can they find a supporting cast for Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the only individual medallists from Doha 2019? British sprinting is packed with talent – Zharnel Hughes, Reece Prescod, Adam Gemili and Daryll Neita – but that has only converted to relay success, while we continue to await Laura Muir's deserved climb onto a world podium.

Asher-Smith, world champion over 200m, can now have realistic ambitions of a sprint double in Tokyo given omnipresent 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will be another year closer to retirement at 34.

Across the sporting spectrum, opportunities are appearing for British champions. Mo Farah has an extra year transitioning back to the track, Andy Murray has more time to get through his injury crisis and Alistair Brownlee can adjust back to the Olympic distance triathlon. On the flip side, Adam Peaty, Max Whitlock and Jade Jones are among those who will have to extend their dominance for an extra 12 months.

A lot of ‘what ifs’ – but it seems that, on balance, the delay will help Team GB’s medal prospects.