Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Over: Swimming Australia Shuts High Performance Programs

CHAMPIONS and DREAMERS: Rio golden boys Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton with girls most likely Kaylee McKeown and Ariarne Titmus...who will have to wait another 12 months to realise their Olympic dreams. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Swimming Australia’s High Performance programs will be shut down immediately and for the foreseeable future following one of the most dramatic days in Olympic sports with the Australian Olympic Committee confirming it will not be safe to send its team to the Tokyo 2020 Games in July.

A dramatic decision which while it had been expected, was also warranted and welcomed but is now a stark reality that the last four years will be lost – extended for another year.

A decision that will cut straight to the hearts of it’s prized swim team with seasoned Olympians, youngsters aspiring to go to their first Games and marathon girl Kareena Lee, who had been the first swimmer named on the team for her Olympic debut in the 10km marathon – all left empty.

With the IOC hinting that a postponement was imminent the AOC wasted no time in finally setting the record straight with Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman admitting earlier in the day that Toyko 2020 awaited official postponement.

“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July,” Chesterman told his athletes as it waits for the IOC to confirm the inevitable.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) informed its athletes they should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, following the IOC’s announcement of a potential postponement of this year’s Games and changes in public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.

Last night Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison virtually closed the curtain on the country – placing it in an unprecedented lockdown – never seen before.

And forcing Swimming Australia, after consultation with the Dolphins Leadership group and HP team, to take the next dramatic steps to tell its athletes their Tokyo dreams were over.

Believing they all now need to prioritise their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families, in discussion with their National Federations.

Kyle Chalmers mean look

Kyle Chalmers – Photo Courtesy: Anthony Burns APP

It comes just 10 days after so many of Australia’s prospective Olympic team had produced world class times – with Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers and four-time Rio Olympic medallist Emma McKeon in crushing form at the NSW Championships.

This morning they were up early and churning up and down pools – all over Australia – from Chandler, to Southport, Sydney Olympic Park, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth – it was Game On!

But before their scheduled afternoon workouts it was Games Over.

Tomorrow morning they will not rise for a heart-rate set but an extended break – their hearts hurting as they come to terms with such a different time.

Breaking from such a regimented routine – joining the rest of the country in shutdown – their dreams put on hold as we all come to terms with unprecedented and uncertain times – but certainty that 2020 will now become 2021.

Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell said in response to the AOC’s call that it was clear that to stop the spread of COVID-19 that everyone must all follow government advice and practice physical distancing.

“In light of all non-essential services being shut down we will suspend all of our Olympic and Paralympic training programs for the foreseeable future,” said Russell.

“The safety and health of our athletes, coaches, staff, their families and our community, is paramount at the moment.”

Russell supported the AOC’s decision, welcoming their acknowledgement that an Australian Olympic team could not be assembled in 2020 considering current global circumstances.

“Given the current situation worldwide, it has become evident that it is not safe for the Games to be staged in its current time frame,” Russell said.

“Although it’s a devastating prospect for the Games to be postponed, it is the correct decision, as we must focus on our families and our communities at this challenging time.

“We understand our country is experiencing unprecedented circumstances, as are our athletes who are only just starting to digest this news.

“We’re very conscious of their mental health and wellbeing and will provide support to our athletes, as well as our coaches and staff, through our wellbeing support networks.

“When the time is right, we will look ahead to the planning phase for 2021 but right now our focus must remain on stopping and slowing the spread of COVID-19 and supporting our people.”

Following the government’s most recent advice and further restrictions being imposed across the country, and after consultation with high performance coaches, Swimming Australia’s High Performance programs would immediately shut down.

Extraordinary Events In Swimming History:

The chronology of cancellation:

Guidance on Water and Coronavirus 







  1. Wendy Flack

    Well done Australia , health first for the nation . British Swimming

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