NEW YORK (Reuters) – Four-times Olympic champion Simone Biles said she was hopeful the rescheduled Tokyo Games will take place next year, amid concern over the global response to the novel coronavirus.
“I’m just praying for the best, hoping that it goes on – for selfish reasons, of course – but for all the athletes around the world working towards this dream,” said Biles, appearing at the virtual espnW Summit NYC.
“But then again you never know. If everybody’s health is at risk, then obviously we shouldn’t host it.”
Senior international Olympic official John Coates said last week that Tokyo organisers face “real problems” putting on the Games next year while Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the event cannot be postponed further.
IOC Chief Thomas Bach said the Olympics would be scrapped if they cannot take place in July next year.
Biles, the most decorated gymnast in world championship history, said she had returned to the gym this week after about seven or eight weeks away and was “getting back into the swing of things” after the Olympic postponement had rattled her.
“It was hard to process, it didn’t seem real life,” the 23-year-old American said, reflecting on the announcement two months ago. “It was hard but then since the whole entire world was going through it at the same time, you didn’t feel alone.”
Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics including the all-around individual title and the team event, also had to overcome doubts about her ability.
“I still felt like, ‘Oh, can I do another year? I’m getting pretty old. Will I be at the top of my game?’,” she said. “But I know my coaches will prepare me.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Ed Osmond)