Worried athletes urged to focus on mental health amid Olympic anxiety


A group of leading current and former athletes have urged their compatriots not to be “overwhelmed” by the uncertainty surrounding the Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games as the mammoth events struggle to stay on track in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter sent out late on Thursday by the Australian Institute of Sport’s Athlete Advisory Committee, chaired by former Commonwealth marathon champion Steve Moneghetti, athletes were asked to ensure their mental health was a top priority given the rising doubts about the viability of the Olympics in 2020.

Athletes around Australia have dedicated almost four years to reaching their peak in time for Tokyo and any postponement could be devastating given the singular focus it takes to compete at that elite level. Many have already had qualification events cancelled or moved due to coronavirus.

Athletes are craving information about Tokyo 2020 amid the global health emergency and despite being in heavy training, have a growing awareness that the Games may not take place this year.

The committee – which also includes surfing champion Sally Fitzgibbons, Australian women’s water polo skipper Rowie Webster, rower Josh Booth, six-time Paralympian Danni De Toro and Paralympic swimmer Matt Levy – sensed a need for an athlete voice and reached out to Olympic aspirants, saying they must find a way to adjust to ‘unprecedented circumstances’.

“For the immediate future, our normal way of life must adjust to unprecedented circumstances. None of us are immune to the impacts of COVID-19,” the letter read.

“In sport we train to be strong, we train to be agile and we train to overcome hurdles. We do this as individuals and as teams. This crisis requires a similar mindset and we believe that with time, all of us will be able to dig deep and overcome the challenge.”

Read The Sydney Morning Herald and the letter from the AIS Athlete Advisory Committee

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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