Tuesday, August 3

The hard road to Tokyo


  • Four Olympic federations explain to EL PERIÓDICO the preparation for the Games in the time of covid 19.

  • Triathlon, hockey, sailing and weightlifting officials argue for the changes to the sponsorship formula and regret that some athletes are not yet classified.

  • Restrictions, test and tournament cancellations have been a constant since the lockdown last spring.

The road to the Games, postponed to this summer due to the pandemic, is more complicated and with more obstacles than in previous Olympic events. The covid has entangled everything, with confinements, travel restrictions, suspended competitions and in many cases with athletes who still do not know if they are classified a year behind. Four heads of Olympic federations (triathlon, hockey, sailing and weightlifting) talk to EL PERIÓDICO and explain how they live with the new normal caused by covid-19.

“The first thing we did was try to keep our athletes focused and calm.” Speaks Jose Hidalgo, president of the Spanish Triathlon Federation. “And that they did not lose perspective of where they had to go. During the confinement we gave them material so that they could train at home, such as treadmills, and that they were constantly informed of the news that was taking place.”

Olympic triathletes and with the option of a medal like the Majorcan Mario Mola They did not compete until September. “The problem with triathlon is that most tests are popular and with the restrictions they had to be made much more limited and, above all, encapsulated with many more start rounds than before the pandemic. And this has also caused the organizers of this type of test have seen their income decreased by 40 to 50% less, while the budget for sanitary measures had to be increased “.

The international calendar starts in two months. “Apart from the preparation – he adds gentleman– It is necessary to adapt to the health protocols of each country. The pandemic has also served so that sponsors have changed the criteria when it comes to advertising. Now they want the triathlete to send a social message linked to their brand. “In Tokyo, the Spanish triathlon expects to have five participants, three men and two women.

Raise awareness among the youngest

“The tests to athletes are not very expensive, but you have to spend more money,” he warns Santiago Deó, President of the Spanish Hockey Federation. “With the pandemic, in addition, we have had to raise awareness among our players because they are young and they and they also like to go out. They know that they cannot commit imprudence between now and the Games, with the option of male and especially female medals. The sponsors they want players to now send messages of solidarity and tell people that the pandemic is not a joke. Fortunately, we have not lost commercial brands that support us. At the international level, now, we are recovering competitions that had to be postponed in 2020 ” .

The case of the candle

Sailing is fortunate that it takes place in a natural space and without physical contact between vessels, which prevents contagion between rival sailors. “The usual thing since the confinement ended and the competition began has been to change one regatta for another and be aware of the variations in the dates. But we have been able to adapt,” he explains Julia Casanueva, president of the management committee of the Spanish Sailing Federation. “The sponsors ask our sailors to now get involved in the natural environment and launch messages of solidarity. We have not lost sponsors, but, the truth is, being a minority sport and not very media, we did not have many”. The Olympic team, about 16 people, passed the confinement in the facilities that the federation has in Santander. “At least now, television platforms can give us more visibility thanks to drones”, which will be essential in the broadcasts of the regattas during the Tokyo Games.

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The weightlifting situation is more dramatic. For example, Lydia valentin, one of the great figures of Spanish sport, has not competed for more than a year. “She has decided not to go to minor competitions because she has preferred to rest. She is a veteran athlete (36 years and three Olympic medals) and she knows that she immediately gets into shape so she has not wanted to crush her joints, rest and train,” she says Old juan, General Secretary of the Spanish Weightlifting Federation.

The big problem is that a year late there is still no one, not even Lydia valentin, qualified for the Games. “Everything was suspended and now we must gamble for access to Tokyo in the European Championship held in Moscow. It is a gold tournament, where the maximum points are given, but until May 15 we will not know who qualifies for some Games that should have been held last year. “


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