The Olympics are postponed. Teen diver calls it ‘heartbreaking’

Published 2020-03-25 12:06

Tokyo Olympics will take place in summer 2021

Although it seemed like the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, might go ahead as planned, they've been postponed for a year — for the first time ever.

That leaves thousands of young athletes to deal with the disappointment.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” said Nathan Zsombor-Murray, a 16-year-old diver for Team Canada.

Nathan, who is from Montreal, was fairly confident he would qualify for synchronized diving for the Olympics, but now it seems he won’t get the chance — at least for a while.

“I’m young, but I've been training hard for a while now,” he told CBC Kids News.

On Tuesday, Japan’s prime minister said the Olympics will be delayed because of the coronavirus.

The decision follows pressure from countries and athletes to postpone, including Canada’s Olympic committee, which said earlier this week that it would not be sending athletes if the Games went ahead.

“The Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope.” - International Olympic Committee

The Olympics join a growing list of major events that have been cancelled or rescheduled.

But despite his disappointment, Nathan said he understands why the Games were called off.

“It’s a really hard decision, but it had to be made,” he said.

Nathan and his synchronized swimming partner, Vincent Riendeau, mid-dive with their arms and legs in the exact same positions.

Nathan, left, started diving off his dad’s shoulders in a swimming pool when he was young. He is pictured here beside his synchronized diving partner, Vincent Riendeau. (Antoine Saito)

‘I don’t know what to do with myself’

Athletes are now left waiting and trying to plan for whatever comes next.

“I’m kind of heading in blind,” said Nathan, who’s been swimming since he was a young boy.

Now, he doesn’t know how long it will be until he can step into a pool again.

An Instagram post of : Nathan and Vincent posing in matching outfits in front of a Lima 2019 pool holding medals in an Instagram post that reads:

So in place of school and training, Nathan said he’s trying to find other ways to fill his time and stay fit while social distancing

“I’ll be honest, I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself,” he said. “I’ve been working out at home doing strength and even finding ways to do flips in my house.”

A teen does a flip onto a mattress in his living room.

Athletes who qualified could lose their spot

A year is a long time in the world of sports.

Athletes who qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games might not have a spot in 2021 if they get beaten by an up-and-comer, said Canadian IOC member Dick Pound.

Nathan said he said his team doesn't know when the qualifiers will be now that everything is delayed.

Vincent and Nathan proudly holding flowers and medals after competition

Nathan, right, at the Diving World Series 2020 with Vincent. (Antoine Saito)

But he said that even though they have to wait an extra year, his team will still “absolutely” be ready.

“I don't think it's going to be a reason for a lack of motivation for me and my team,” Nathan said.

Date of 2021 Olympics unclear

The date hasn’t been confirmed, but it will likely happen during summer 2021.

A man and a woman light the Olympic flame together in front of an airplane

Olympic gold medalists Tadahiro Nomura, right, and Saori Yoshida light the Olympic flame during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games flame arrival ceremony on March 20, 2020, in Japan. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

The Tokyo Games are also expected to be called the 2020 Olympics, even though they’ll be held a year later.

“The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

Headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, with the Olympic flag in the foreground.

Doubts had been increasing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic over whether Tokyo could safely host the summer Games. (Abrice Coffrini/AFP)

But rescheduling comes at a cost.

Many of the arenas, stadiums and hotels that were already booked will have to be rearranged for next year’s Games.

A massive stadium stands out in a city landscape

New National Stadium was supposed to be the main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Tokyo has already spent about $19 billion Cdn to hold the games. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

With files from CBC Sports

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