The postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to “no later than summer 2021” because of the coronavirus pandemic raises a number of questions for the RYA and Team GB.
The Team GB sailing squad for Tokyo had already been announced, following a programme of selection qualifying events and the recomendations of the RYA Olympic Selection Committee*.
The actual qualifying events were not released to the public, so it was sometimes difficult to follow the basis of the decisions.
With over 15 months to the re-scheduled Games, undoubtedly there will be those who missed selection for the 2020 Games, who will consider that they now have considerable time to raise their game or reverse a close result.
And likewise there will be those who already targeting their peak performance for this July, could suffer a loss of performance over the extended period to the 2021 Games.
With many Olympic sailing class events likely to be cancelled/postponed at least until the later part of 2020, we will likely see a rush of rescheduled events, leading to a similar situation to earlier this year, when Australia and New Zealand featured many international events.
These could reset the Team GB selection process to ensure that the selected sailors are those who have dealt best with the interrupted training and competition programme, and are in the best stage of their build up to a July 2021 Games.w
In fact selection could be delayed until the early part of the 2021 European season to ensure peak perfomance at the Games.
There will also be some confusion over Team GB’s funding model for the Tokyo Games in 2021.
UK Sport funds are awarded in four-year cycles to coincide with the Games, with the next financial cycle due to begin on March 31, 2021, which will be for the Paris 2024 Games.
Thus, there will have to be some form of bridging arrangement put in place to cover the extended period upto the rescheduled Tokyo Games, before arrangements for Paris 2024 can be finalised.
But, and it’s still a big but, all this depends on beating coronovirus COVID-19, not just here in the UK, but around the world and getting the global economy back up and running in time for a great celebration in Tokyo 2021.
* The RYA Olympic Selection Committee comprises:
Jarrod Simpson (Chair), Rob Andrews, Sarah Gosling, Saskia Clark, Lucy Macgregor, Leigh McMillan, Ian Walker (RYA) Mark Robinson (RYA) and Carla Stanley (Chair of Racing).
British Sailing Team – The Class of 2020 – Who was up for consideration.