U.S. Olympic fencer Alexander Massialas is disappointed he won’t be competing in the Olympics this year, but he plans to train hard and come back stronger for the Tokyo Games in 2021.
Massialas, who won two medals in fencing at the 2016 Rio Games, says he believes the International Olympic Committee made the right decision to postpone the Tokyo Games because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Obviously I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to compete this summer, but ultimately it’s the right decision,” said the 25-year-old Massialas. “I think the IOC made a good decision in trying to protect not only its athletes, but all the organizers, the volunteers and global health just in general.”
Massialas, 25, lives in San Francisco and trains with his father Greg, who is the U.S. fencing coach and a former U.S. team member.
Massialas says he’s fortunate he can live at home and train with his father, but says waiting another year to compete in the Olympics will be a financial and personal challenge for many athletes.
“There are athletes out there having to pay coaching fees, having to pay rent, having to pay for travel” to competitions, Massialas said.
Massialas, who had already qualified to compete in the Olympic this year, says athletes are concerned about how organizers will decide which athletes will qualify to compete in Tokyo in 2021.
On Tuesday, the IOC took the unprecedented stop of postponing the world’s biggest sporting event, which was slated to feature 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries and had been scheduled to start July 24. They will now be pushed into 2021 on dates to be determined.
The global pandemic has sickened at least 460,000 people and killed more than 21,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Greg Massialas, Alexander’s father, says he’s relieved by the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics.
“There’s definitely an opportunity for some people, but it’s obviously a setback for other people,” Greg Massialas said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.