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British athletes being prepared for Olympics worst-case scenario

January 23, 2021

LONDON: British athletes are being prepared mentally for the crushing disappointment if the Olympics and the Paralympics were to be called off.

Speculation the Games will be cancelled — having been postponed from last year due to the coronavirus pandemic — has been quashed by the Tokyo organisers, the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

The resurgence of the virus worldwide has led to some believing the Games and the Paralympics will not go ahead. Vicki Aggar, chair of the British Athletes Commission, told the Press Association news agency that despite those denials conversations are taking place with athletes preparing them for that eventuality.

“The system is starting to get ready, I don’t think it’s fully ready for a ‘no Games’ (scenario),” she said. “I think there’s a team of sports psychologists who are probably starting to think about ‘oh my goodness, what happens?’

“Certainly at the BAC we’re starting to think about what happens. I think levels of anxiety are really being felt by athletes. “Credit to the sports, they are having open conversations with athletes which is probably the most helpful thing in terms of managing — that openness of conversation just helps the athletes’ mental health.”

Aggar, a Paralympic rowing bronze medallist in 2008, said athletes holding out for one last moment on the biggest sporting stage before retiring are potentially the most fragile. “The biggest thing for me is that we know athletes have a bit of a slump anyway when they come off competing at a Games — you’ve had that high of competing, you come back and it’s flat and low anyway,” she said. “If you don’t get to the Games, and you were thinking of retiring, I think that’s a double whammy for someone’s mental health.