(Reuters) – Athletes impacted by the postponement of the Summer Games in Tokyo will need extra time to regain their fitness but can rest assured they are saving lives by not competing this year, members of the U.S. team that boycotted the 1980s Games said.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced the IOC to move this year’s Games to 2021. American athletes also missed the 1980 Games in Moscow when the United States led a boycott against them over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
“I don’t think it’s possible for athletes to get to 80 to 90% of peak performance and not roll the clock back and start over, perhaps further than you think you ought to,” two-time Olympic track and field gold medalist Edwin Moses, who was part of the 1980 team, said during an online conference call on Tuesday.
“You’re not going to be able to stay in shape for 15 months and you really want to prevent yourself from getting injured because that’s what takes most athletes out as well.”
Olympic volleyball player Rita Buck-Crockett, who was part of the 1980 team, said today’s disappointed athletes should know that their sacrifice isn’t for nothing, although she said she couldn’t say the same for the 1980 boycott, which to this day she said she doesn’t understand.
“In this time now, what you have to understand is that you are saving lives by not going to the Olympics this year,” she said.
“As hard as it is, you have only one year hopefully and you’re going to save a million lives.
“You know when we boycotted as Anita (Defranze) said, we didn’t save one life,” she said, adding that the boycott left her devastated.
Buck-Crockett was able to compete in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, where she took home a silver medal.
“We shouldn’t have had that position but now just look at it as you’re saving lives,” she said.
“Just go do your sit ups in your living room. Go do your sit-ups. Go run. Do whatever you can do to keep yourself in shape.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Stephen Coates)