Kyle Chalmers is fascinated but not distracted by the coronavirus impacting on the Tokyo Olympics. Image by AP PHOTO

Summer Olympics

Coronavirus no distraction for Chalmers

2020-02-28 10:41:48

Olympic swimming champion Kyle Chalmers is fascinated but not distracted by the coronavirus as Japan takes drastic action to curtail the outbreak ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Australia’s 100m freestyle king Chalmers says whether the coronavirus forces the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics due to begin on July 24 is out of the control of athletes.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced the country’s entire school system will be asked to close from Monday until late March to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of coronavirus cases in Japan has risen to more than 200 and the government has urged sporting events be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks to contain the virus.

The Japanese government has pledged that the Tokyo Olympics will proceed, and swim star Chalmers hoped that would be the case.

“It’s not distracting,” Chalmers said on Friday.

“It’s out of my control, firstly, but I am actually really interested in it and how something like that can just take off, it’s fascinating.

“So I have been looking into a fair bit of news about it.”

Senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said this week by late May, organisers of the Tokyo Games must decide whether it would be safe to stage the sporting showpiece as scheduled.

“I think by May they have hopefully solved the problem,” Chalmers said.

“And I guess that is their job to do.

“And my job is to swim as fast as I can in the pool and prepare for the Olympic Games which is all I can really worry about for the time being.”

Chalmers said postponing the Games would impact on all athletes who have been planning for years for the July-August event.

“Ideally I would love to have it in July, that is what I’m preparing for and that is when I will be swimming my best,” he said.

“But either way it’s an Olympic Games and you’re going to get yourself up, no matter the time when it is.

“My mind and everything I am doing is preparing for July and I’m doing absolutely everything I can to swim as fast as I can.

“It would be disappointing for it to be postponed but fingers-crossed it’s not.”

Australia’s Olympic hierarchy said this week there had been no indication the Tokyo Games wouldn’t proceed as scheduled.