PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The summer Olympic games that were supposed to start in Tokyo on July 24 are being postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19.
Olympic volleyball player and Portland native Kim Hill said she understands the decision but it’s still hugely disappointing.
“You could kind of see it coming over the last few weeks and I’ve been kind of mentally preparing myself for it, but when the official news comes it’s very disappointing,” Hill said.
I had the chance to talk with @usavolleyball star Kim Hill today. The Portland native and Olympic athlete has been training for the 2020 Tokyo games for years. She told me delaying the #Olympics is the right choice - but is also hugely disappointing. pic.twitter.com/gvLyezB2gj— Kelsey Watts (@KelseyWattsKPTV) March 25, 2020
It’s the same emotion thousands of Olympic athletes around the world are feeling, knowing that the last four years of their hard work and training were supposed to culminate in just four months on the world stage in Tokyo but are now on hold.
“It’s understandable and it’s the right choice, but as an athlete who has been training four years for this and making plans around it and life plans around it, it’s disappointing,” Hill said.
The official announcement from the International Olympic Committee came on Tuesday, with USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland telling athletes in part: “even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner.”
FOX 12 spoke with Hill via Facetime from Italy, where she’s been since the fall playing a professional volleyball season overseas while training for the 2020 games.
She said they got to play half the season, but the rest was canceled. Now, she and other athletes are in lock-down in their apartments.
“It’s been a little crazy, it just keeps escalating,” Hill said. “[There’s] not a lot to do these days but just wait and hope.”
As a team, USA Volleyball qualified for the 2020 games in Tokyo and roughly 20-25 athletes have been training for the games.
Hill said she was going to find out a month before the games whether she’d be one of the 12 players selected for the Olympic team. It’s an experience she treasured in Rio during her first Olympic games in 2016.
“The Olympics as a whole is the most incredible experience, from the opening ceremonies to every competition, every match is the coolest experience, so I’ve been chomping at the bit to get that feeling back again,” Hill said.
Back then, her team took home the bronze, but they had their eyes on gold – and still do.
“So that’s what’s really keeping us going at this point, is really wanting that gold,” Hill said. “We don’t have the opportunity this summer, so we’re like, 'okay, another year to train,' and hopefully have a better shot at it next summer.”
Everything has been such a whirlwind this week, she hasn’t had time to mentally prepare for this delay and what the next year will look like for her.
But she’s thankful all the Olympic athletes are in the same boat and knows they will figure it out together.
“Everyone knows there’s a bigger issue here and for the sake of humanity, you know, as disappointing as it is, I think most all athletes understand and acknowledge that this is the best course of action and we’re all willing to move forward and go with it,” Hill said.
The International Olympic Committee says the new games will happen “no later than the summer of 2021,” but exact dates have not been worked out.
We know the games will stay in Tokyo, and the Paralympic Games are being postponed, too.
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