Roger Federer has called on Olympics chiefs to end all uncertainty and make a final ruling on whether Tokyo 2020 can go ahead.

The Swiss great, a winner of 20 grand slam titles, had hoped to make a farewell Olympic Games appearance last year, only for the pandemic to mean the event was postponed for 12 months.

Both the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee have not swayed from their stance that the Games will go ahead despite a strong swell of public support for a cancellation.

With Japan struggling to contain the COVID-19 virus, however, and Tokyo still in a formal state of emergency, there remain major doubts over whether it is realistic for thousands of international visitors to come to the country in July and August.

Federer has heard the confident voices, but he also is aware that many residents of Tokyo are against the Games happening this year.

"Honestly I don't know what to think. I'm a bit between the two," Federer told Swiss television station Leman Bleu.

"I would love to play in the Olympics, win a medal for Switzerland. It would make me especially proud. But if it doesn't happen because of the situation, I would be the first to understand.

"I think what the athletes need is a decision: is it going to happen or is it not going to happen?

"At the moment, we have the impression that it will happen. We know it's a fluid situation. And you can also decide as an athlete if you want to go. If you feel there's a lot of resistance, maybe it's better not to go. I don't know."

Federer, who is returning from a long knee injury lay-off, has played at four previous Olympics, winning doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka in Beijing in 2008 and silver in singles at London 2012, where Andy Murray denied him in the final at Wimbledon.

He is set to play his second comeback tournament next week at the Geneva Open, building up to a French Open appearance, with Wimbledon on the horizon.

He and wife Mirka and their family are likely to be spending several weeks apart as Federer co-operates, where required, with tournament bubbles, limiting the size of player entourages.

"It's going to test a little the situation at home," Federer said. "I've spoken about it a lot with Mirka. Now it's the comeback which is the priority."

The JAAA has secured at least one international race for Jamaica’s men’s 4x100m relay squad as they attempt to a secure spot at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

A Jamaican quartet will race at a World Athletics Continental Tour track and field meet to be held at Prairie View, Houston, Texas on May 25.

“So far Nigeria and Canada are down to compete in the race,” said JAAA General Secretary Marie Tavares. “But we understand that I least one other team will be involved.”

Jamaica is provisionally qualified in 11th position with the top 16 teams to be accepted into the relay pool at the Olympics. That qualifying time (38.15) was achieved in the semifinals of the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, 2019. 

The need for a race escalated after Jamaica was forced to withdraw from the IAAF World Relays which took place in Poland last weekend.

 This past weekend, a team of Asafa Powell, Julian Forte, Yohan Blake and Oshane Bailey posted a time of 38.33, the second-fastest in the world this year.

Opus, a leading publisher of luxury limited-edition books in sports, film and entertainment, has announced a partnership with Usain Bolt to produce the publication of Bolt – The Opus, a luxury limited edition, capturing iconic Olympic moments and treasured memories of the eight-time Olympic gold medalist and 100m and 200m world record holder.

Bolt - The Opus will honour the achievements of the iconic Jamaican, who is regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time having won eight Olympic gold medals and 11 World Championship gold medals and who continues to inspire young people from all backgrounds, cultures and nations.

In addition, the Bolt Foundation serves to create opportunities through education and cultural development for positive changes to help children live their dreams.

Bolt, who retired in 2017, is also a four-time Laureus World Sportsman of the Year and the winner of many other awards across the globe.

According to the publishers, The Opus will be the largest and most luxurious celebration of the sport’s greatest icon, measuring 60cm x 40cm, weighing in at 17kg. Over 260 pages printed on luxurious silk paper will celebrate in the most dynamic way, using high definition photography presented in the most unique way like never before.

It will be in a hand-made clamshell presentation case with the release being followed by a limited number of editions that will be personally signed by Usain making it the greatest tribute to Usain Bolt ever.

An excited Bolt said he is eagerly anticipating the release of the publication.

” I was given the Manchester United OPUS as a gift a few years ago and am thrilled to finally have The Official Usain Bolt Opus,” he said.

“I have seen some sample pages already and am excited that it is going to look amazing and capture all the biggest moments in my career.”

 

The first editions will be ready for release and shipping later this year.

Despite the intense rivalry they shared on the track during the 1990s, two-time Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers said she always admired and respected Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for her talent and longevity.

The rivals met in a number of major finals that were talked about for years, especially the epic 1993 World Championships 100m finals in Stuttgart, Germany and the Olympic Games in Atlanta, three years later.

Prior to those two years, Devers and Ottey met in the finals of the 100m finals at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 when Devers won her first Olympic 100 title in 10.80s. Ottey was fifth in 10.88 in one of the closest finals in history. 0.08 seconds separated the first five places.

That race marked the beginning of a tense rivalry between Devers and Ottey that would only intensify over the next four years.

In Stuttgart, Devers got off to a flyer and was ahead midway the race but she was being reeled in by a fast-closing Ottey, who with her final strides appeared to have caught the diminutive American as they crossed the line together.

Unsure of who won, the finalists stood around looking up at the scoreboard for what seemed like an eternity. Officials eventually announced that Devers had been awarded the victory even though both she and the Jamaican icon were given the same time of 10.82.

Jamaican protested the result but the decision upheld, handing the American.

By 1996, the 36-year-old Ottey was at her fifth Olympics, Devers her third, and once again they came face to face in the 100m finals and once again, history repeated itself. Devers got off to a great start only to be reeled in by Ottey and sure enough, they crossed the finish line together.

Both were timed in 10.94 but like in Stuttgart, the American was given the nod. The circumstances created tensions between the two countries and their athletes. However, Devers said those tensions were simply about competition.

“You just get caught up in ‘this is competition and you got coaches who say we’re going to protest this,” Devers told Ato Boldon on his Athletics Live show on Instagram last week.

She said she had no idea why things turned out the way they did, why it always seemed to come down to her and Ottey.

“It keeps coming up that it’s these two every time. I don’t know why it was always us but we were always willing to go to the wire,” she said.

Devers explained that in the early days' everyone kind of kept to themselves, leaving little to interact with her rivals.

“When we were competing, it was (Irina) Privalova, it was me, it was Gwen Torrence, it was that four that you could not pick who was going to win on that day,” she said.

“And we can’t duck each other, we gotta go, we gotta run, gotta bring you’re A-plus game because they’re bringing their A-game. So with Merlene, I always knew she was a great athlete and I would always tell her ‘You still running, shoot…”

She said that as time passed, they both got the chance to get to know each other and the tensions cooled.

“While you’re competing everybody is in their own camp, you don’t sit there and socialize anyway, but as we got older, going to awards ceremonies or even with social media, we were able to talk to each other,” she said.

“She knows that I have always admired her because I don’t care at what age, if she steps out there now I am concerned. You might want to be worried because if she is in the lane, she is ready to go.”

Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures are set to enter a state of emergency just three months before Japan's capital is due to host the rescheduled Olympic Games.

Restrictions will be imposed from April 25 through to May 11 in a bid to curb rising coronavirus infections in Japan.

Bars, restaurants and karaoke parlours serving alcohol will be asked to close, while sporting events are set to be held behind closed doors.

Additionally, department stores and cinemas will close, while people will be encouraged to work from home. Schools, however, will remain open.

Economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said: "We absolutely have to limit the movement of people, and we have to do it decisively.

"We need powerful, short and focused measures."

Kyoto and Hyogo are the other two areas to come under the new restrictions.

It marks the third time Japan will enter a state of emergency. The decision comes as the country's medical system struggles to contend with a rise in COVID-19 infections caused by new variants.

The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee has not swayed from its stance that the Games – postponed last year as a result of the pandemic – will go ahead despite a strong swell of public support for a cancellation.

Last week, Toshihiro Nikai – the secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party – said cancellation remains a possibility, although Olympics Minister Tamayo Maruyama said that was not being considered.

International spectators have already been banned from attending the Games, which are due to begin on July 23, while a decision over domestic spectators going to events is reportedly set to be delayed.

Shadae Lawrence is unbeaten in the discus competition in 2021 and has already achieved the Olympic qualifying standard but according to her coach, Julian Robinson, there is still a lot to be accomplished if she is to be competitive at the Olympic Games this summer.

Reigning champions Brazil and 2016 finalists Germany have been drawn together in the group stages for the men's football tournament at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Brazil secured the gold medal on home soil in Rio five years ago when defeating Germany via a penalty shoot-out, Neymar with the clinching spot-kick for following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

The two nations are together again in Group D, along with Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia, and are in the same half of the draw as Argentina and Spain, who are both in Group C.

Hosts Japan are joined in Group A by France, Mexico – who claimed the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – and South Africa.

Les Bleus will be involved in the opening match when they take on Mexico on July 22 at Tokyo Stadium, followed by Japan taking on South Africa at the same venue later that day.

In the women's event, the United States – winners of the 2019 World Cup - are paired with Sweden, who lost the 2016 final to Germany. Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand complete the line-up for Group G.

Japan will take on Canada, Great Britain and Chile in Group E, while the other pool contains China, Brazil, the Netherlands and Zambia.


Men's draw in full:

Group A: Japan, South Africa, Mexico, France.

Group B: New Zealand, South Korea, Honduras, Romania.

Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia.

Group D: Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia

Women's draw in full:

Group E: Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile.

Group F: China, Brazil, Zambia, the Netherlands.

Group G: Sweden, United States, Australia, New Zealand.

Christian Coleman, the 100 metres world champion, will miss the Olympic Games despite having a ban for breaking anti-doping whereabouts rules reduced to 18 months.

The American missed three drugs tests in the space of a year and was initially hit with a two-year suspension after a ruling from the Athletics Integrity Unit.

Coleman took responsibility for a first missed test on January 16, 2019, and claimed the second, on April 26 of the same year, was due to a "filing failure".

He said he was only notified about a third missed test in December 2019, the following day. Coleman said he had been out Christmas shopping but had returned during the one-hour window to be tested and questioned why he was not contacted by telephone by the tester.

Coleman took his challenge to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has partially upheld the 25-year-old's appeal.

CAS has ruled Coleman's ban, which was originally due to end on May 13, 2022, will now expire on November 14. It means he will miss the Olympics, which run from July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

However, he will be able to defend his world title in Oregon next year.

A CAS statement read: "In coming to its decision, the CAS Panel determined that Christian Coleman had indeed committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.4 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, but found the athlete's degree of negligence to be lower than that established in the Challenged Decision: the Athlete was not at home during the 60-minute time slot on the day of the out-of-competition doping control (9 December 2019), as he should have been, and the Athlete should have been on 'high-alert' on that day, given the two existing whereabout failures against him. 

"On the other hand, however, had the Athlete been called by the Doping Control Officer, he would have been able to return to his apartment during the 60-minute window and a test would have been concluded. Although a telephone call during the 60-minute window was not required by the rules, it was nevertheless reasonable for the Athlete to expect such a call, as a matter of standard practice among other Doping Control Officers.

"In conclusion, the CAS Panel determined that an 18-month period of ineligibility was the appropriate sanction in the circumstances."

Australia Open champion, Naomi Osaka, has described watching Jamaica sprint king Usain Bolt performing at the Olympics as her most memorable moment.

Bolt, who retired from the sport of track and field in 2017, will not be competing at the Games in Tokyo this summer but in many ways still looms large over a sport he dominated for close to a decade.

At the 2016 Rio Games, the last time the event was held, Bolt destroyed the field in typical fashion, en route to three gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m.  On debut, at the 2008 Beijing Games, Bolt set massive world records in both the 100m and 200m sprints.

Overall, Bolt finished his csareer with 8 Olympic gold medals.  With such dominant performances, it is little wonder that Osaka, who has Caribbean roots herself with her father hailing from the island of Haiti, enjoyed watching the Jamaican in his prime.  Osaka, who is likely to attempt to win a gold medal for Japan this summer, recently shared what the quadrennial event has meant to her over the years.

“When I think of the Olympics, what comes to mind is, of course, the opening ceremony, just seeing all the people being so happy,” Osaka said in an interview posted on the ITF official website.

“My like most outstanding Olympic memory is just watching Bolt run. He’s my favorite athlete and for my whole family. My dad really loves his running so we would just like to watch him.”

Cancelling the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics remains an option, according to a top official from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). 

The Games, which were postponed last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, are set to take place between July 23 and August 8, with the Paralympics following from August 24 until September 5.

The health crisis continues to cause issues for nations across the globe but the message from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has thus far been that the show will go on.

International fans are banned from attending, and social-distancing measures, track-and-trace systems and temperature checks will be enforced.

With experts in Japan warning the country has entered a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, the secretary general of the LDP, Toshihiro Nikai, said cancelling the Games remains a possibility. 

"If it seems impossible to go on with the games, they must be definitely cancelled," Nikai told TBS TV.

"If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics."

Asked if cancellation was still an option, he added: "Of course."

A recent poll conducted by Japanese news agency Kyodo News revealed that 39.2 per cent of respondents want the Games to be cancelled, with 32.8 per cent in favour of it being delayed again.

 

Fabian Cancellara is not one for looking back, but the Swiss great will always be able to afford himself fond reflections of a glorious Olympic swansong in Rio.

Cancellara turned 40 last month and while many struggle after retiring from professional sport, the man nicknamed 'Spartacus' has embraced new challenges in and out of the saddle.

The 'Chasing Cancellara' platform enables cycling enthusiasts - ranging from beginners to semi-professionals - to compete against and pick the brains of the legendary double Olympic champion.

Asked how life after professional cycling is treating him in an interview to mark 100 days before the Tokyo Olympics start, Cancellara told Stats Perform News: "I'm busy, I have nothing to complain about. 

"I'm enjoying meeting so many different people from different places and backgrounds. It is great the human connection you experience and it's not just about winning.

"I take great satisfaction from seeing people cross the line maybe hours after a winner, they have got a little lost or taken a different route but they have had a great time, they did not give up and that is what matters.

"It gives me goosebumps to see that. In life we need to challenge ourselves and I'm so happy to be part of getting people to do that. I love being able to give something back."

While crossing the finishing line first is no longer the objective for Cancellara, it was the only thing on his mind in his pursuit of a second Olympic gold medal five years ago.

The seven-time Monument winner had decided to quit at the end of the 2016 season and did not fancy his chances of even getting on the podium in his final Games in Brazil after returning from his last Tour de France devoid of confidence. 

Yet a phone call from his coach Luca Guercilena changed Cancellara's mindset and from then on he was a man on a mission - which was accomplished when he blew his time trial rivals away on the 54.5 kilometre course.

Cancellara recalls: "When I came back from the Tour de France I was not confident and it had a big emotional impact with it being my last Tour. I had tears in my eyes when I left the Tour.

"I was flat and lacking confidence. Luca Guercilena called me and said I must get ready, he said my data was good and all of a sudden I had changed my mind completely because I couldn't have reached these numbers if I was not there (at the level of performance required). I said I want to win gold and if I do that in August, I will finish.

"I wanted to end my career on a high note and everything came together. The data was there, I had experience, luck, will and support."

Cancellara, who had won time-trial gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver in the road race, vividly remembers the race and standing on the top step of the podium.

He added: "It's such a different race. It's huge and the Olympics can crack you. For 54.5 kilometres you are purely focused on the outcome, you know there cannot be any mistakes.

"It was going to be an hour to one hour and 15 minutes of pure effort. I remember the two laps clearly, after the first I was quite a way ahead and Luca said 'remember it's two laps'!

"I was able to gain even more time and I remember it was such an emotional moment when I knew I had won gold. You feel proud of yourself, proud for Switzerland and everybody who helped me to achieve it. 

"No words are needed for that moment you hear the anthem on the podium. That moment will never leave me. I don't look back in life, as you have to move forward.

"I know I am a two-time Olympic champion and all over the world people know about the Olympics."

Olympics great Mark Spitz believes politically active athletes are unlikely to heed demands for them not to protest during Tokyo 2020.

United States swimming superstar Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games to establish himself as an all-time legend of the pool.

He recalled the Black Power salute from American track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Games four years earlier as a prime example of Olympians using their platform to take a powerful stance in front of the watching world.

On the podium in Mexico City, after Smith won gold in the 200 metres and Carlos took bronze, the American sprinters each stood with a black-gloved hand raised and head bowed, an immortal protest against racism in the United States.

Spitz acknowledged the determined efforts of current sporting superstars such as LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton to draw attention to similar matters of racial prejudice.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said last year that the Olympics "are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends".

Bach added: "Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organisations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be."

In an interview with Stats Perform, Spitz said of the IOC's intentions: "I know they have had some campaigns at a political level not to make it a platform for people to speak out against things that are obviously a concern to them, and they use when they stand on the podium and win a medal to voice their opinion.

"I am on the fence in how I feel about it. An example was Tommie Smith and John Carlos who held their hands up in the 1968 Olympic Games in track and field. And that still resonates to this day.

"And the issues they spoke loud and clear about are still happening here in America and worldwide. So I don't think people's rightful opportunity to speak out will be eradicated."

Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz added: "I think there's a proper place and a proper time and in most people's opinion the proper place and time are when the most people in the world are listening to you.

"And certainly that provokes those sort of things to happen at the Olympics, or other events for that matter."

Formula One champion Hamilton and NBA superstar James have used their global fame as a means to call for equality in society and sport.

Spitz stressed he remained "down the middle of the line" on political protests in sport, but he added: "I think morally if they feel they need to speak out then they should. And there's a way to do that in a polite and politically correct and accurate way. I think those two gentlemen [Hamilton and James] have done so."

Spitz, now 71, no longer holds the record for the most gold medals in a single Games after fellow swimming great Michael Phelps won eight at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He predicted organisers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics - set back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic - will go the extra mile to deliver a standout entertainment experience for the worldwide audience.

International spectators have been banned from travelling to watch the Games, in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

"I suspect and hope they will go off without a hitch, but in keeping with tradition I'm not sure how they'll do an opening ceremony with all those people, or an opening ceremony show," Spitz said.

"It is a big revenue generator for the television networks to have those part of the festivities. It's a shame if it's not done as we're accustomed to seeing, but I think it will be modified and we'll be happy with what the presentation will be I hope."

Only 100 days remain until the rearranged Tokyo Olympics begin, some 12 months after they were originally scheduled to take place in the Japanese capital.

The overriding question over the past year has simply been: how will this happen?

Uncertainty still lingers over the monumental logistical effort needed to reschedule an Olympics, one that did not take place as planned for the first time since World War II as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over a year since it was first confirmed the Games would be put back, the global health crisis is still wreaking havoc as countries battle COVID-19 with varying levels of success.

For the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government, a more pertinent question may be: how could the Games not go ahead?

Soon, more than 11,000 athletes plus their coaches, as well as throngs of media and officials from around 200 nations, will flock into a single city during a pandemic.

As the Games come into view and the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic cauldron draws closer, the message has been pretty clear – one way or another, the show will go on.

So, just where are we at and what do we still not fully know about how the Games will function?

HOW THE SITUATION IS VIEWED IN JAPAN

While there appears little chance of another immediate postponement, there has not been particularly mass support from the people of Japan.

A Times report in January citing an unnamed Japanese government source suggested the Games would be cancelled – suggestions that were labelled as "categorically untrue" by the IOC.

But a survey taken by the Kyodo News Agency in the same month found approximately 80 per cent of people wanted another postponement or cancellation. 

A more recent poll taken by consultancy Kekst CNC found 56 per cent of respondents in the country do not want the Olympics to take place.

Confidence in Japan's ability to host the Games will hardly have been improved by the Olympic torch relay being prevented from taking place on public roads in Osaka on April 13 and 14 due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

While a full lockdown has never been imposed in Japan, a second state of emergency in Tokyo was only lifted on March 22.

Daily new infection rates in Japan decreased to a little over 500 in early March, but rates have steadily been on the rise again, with over 3,695 reported on April 10. Over 9,000 people have died after having a confirmed case in the country.

There are also concerns about the speed of the vaccine rollout in Japan, with frontline medical workers having not started receiving jabs until February. It could be July by the time the wider population is offered a shot.

PLAYBOOKS, TESTING AND NO MANDATORY VACCINATIONS

Despite those reservations, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee have pressed ahead to come up with an extensive collaborative list of rules in a 'playbook'.

Athletes and officials, members of the press, and international federations are among the groups who will have to follow playbooks for the duration of the Games.

The guidance we have all become so familiar with for over a year is stressed: avoid physical contact, maintain distance, follow good hand hygiene, wear masks, and keep away from crowded spaces where possible.

Chanting and singing is discouraged, with the playbook stating athletes should be supported instead by clapping.

Additionally, an activity plan must be provided for the first 14 days when entering Japan – including details of planned activities, travel intentions, and accommodation details.

All those required to adhere to the rules of the playbook are permitted to visit only official Games venues and selected other locations, while going to bars, shops, restaurants or tourist locations is not allowed.

No mandatory period of quarantining will be required, unlike what was in place for the tennis Australian Open earlier this year, but anyone who provides a positive coronavirus test will have to isolate – which the playbook states may be at a government-approved isolation facility.

Athletes will not be required to have received a vaccine against COVID-19 to take part in the Games, although the IOC has actively encouraged participants to take the opportunity if possible.

The issue of whether vaccines should be mandatory remains a contentious one. Middle-distance athlete Genzebe Dibaba, a silver medallist for Ethiopia in the 1,500 metres at Rio 2016, recently told Stats Perform News she feels competitors should get a jab.

"Yes, I think it's safe and more comfortable to manage, to meet with the other athletes. [I think it's] better to take the vaccine," she said.

Swimming great Mark Spitz, a legend of the 1972 Games in Munich where he won seven golds, also believes Olympians should take a vaccine.

Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz told Stats Perform: "Personally I've received the vaccine because of my age, I didn't jump in front of anyone in line. And there's nothing to fear from the vaccine.

"According to the doctors and the experts we're somewhere in excess of 90 per cent protected - that doesn't mean I don't observe social distancing, masking up and all the other things we've heard so much about and have been observing.

"I think the athletes will have to cope with these type of observances. I think the athletes should be vaccinated, not only for their own good but for anyone they come into contact with in their journey to get to Tokyo."

Athletes are to be tested every four days, but no decision has yet been taken on whether a positive result will see competitors prohibited from taking part in their events – the contention over potentially false positive tests remaining a sticking point.

At past Olympics, Games accommodation 'villages' have earned a reputation as party venues, with competitors clustered and able to blow off steam at the end of a brutal four-year training cycle.

But this year promises to be an altogether different experience, with athletes told to arrive five days before competing and leave no later than two days after their event finishes.

Temperature checks are required to be taken every day, and playbooks warn that such tests will also be required to enter any official Games venue – a temperature of more than 37.5 degrees would mean a competitor is not allowed to enter.

TRAINING DISRUPTION AND OVERSEAS FANS BANNED

Disruption to the Games has not just been a nightmare for organisers. Athletes too have had to rip up plans and training schedules, and find ways to adapt during unusual times.

Qualifiers and warm-up events have been cancelled or rescheduled, many official competitions have bitten the dust, and several months have been spent at home training, with practice facilities closing during lockdowns.

Amid the uncertainty has been the real fear of a full cancellation, and many have pondered whether the Games will lack integrity due to the varying levels of preparedness of athletes.

But many also believe athletes will just be desperate to compete on the biggest stage of all after over 12 months of turmoil.

"Everybody knows how special the Olympics are; for an athlete it cannot really get any better. You obviously want to do yourself proud and your family, but also you are representing your country," Fabian Cancellara, the cycling time trial gold medallist at both the 2008 and 2016 Olympics, told Stats Perform.

"Obviously with cycling I had many other big events, but the Olympics is huge and something you can never forget both when competing and the whole Olympic experience.

"You wait four, or in this case five years. Who knows how it is going to be in Tokyo really, nobody is quite sure but I'm sure they can still put a great Olympics on.

"The athletes will be even more hungry after waiting an extra year and whoever gets to experience what I did and become an Olympic champion, it's going to be amazing for them."

Spitz acknowledged the disruption, but he too hopes competitors will have had ample time to prepare.

"I can't speak on behalf on a lot of different sports and how their training habits have been affected. I know swimming, for example, it's been a bit of a concern since we can't get into pools here in America," he said.

"It has a profound effect on swimming obviously. Especially these large pools we need to practise in, 50-metre pools, it's not in somebody's back yard, and you need to be coached and assembled in a team.

"So, this was put on the sidelines for a number of months back in the winter time, but a lot of the athletes are on track right now. They have opened up these facilities and far enough in advance that come time for the Olympic Games we're going to see top-notch performances from swimmers around the world. How it's affected gymnastics or other sports I'm not quite sure but it definitely has affected them."

One thing that is certain is those competing are sure to do so in a very different atmosphere to past Olympics.

Last month, it was confirmed no overseas visitors will be allowed to attend the Games – a significant blow to an event that prides itself on providing an international flavour.

Approximately 900,000 to one million tickets had reportedly been sold across the Olympic and Paralympic Games to overseas spectators, all of which will need to be refunded.

Fears of a behind-closed-doors Games are unlikely to come to fruition, although a decision about a potential cap on capacity of venues is likely to be made in the near future.

TOO COSTLY TO CANCEL?

Of course, for all the messages of unity and triumphing amid adversity, there will be cynics asking whether this all boils down to one thing: money.

There is undoubtedly an element of truth that there is plenty to lose financially.

As of December 2020, it was reported the budget for the Olympics had risen to a whopping £11.5billion, an extra £2.1bn compared to the totals a year prior.

The additional costs are said to be mainly down to measures needed to combat the threat of COVID-19 and the renegotiating of contracts.

And there is pressure too from broadcasters, who contribute to around three quarters of the IOC's budget, who remain adamant the Games should go ahead.

So, yes, here we are with 100 days to go and barring a monumental change of heart, the show will indeed go on.

Genzebe Dibaba believes it would be a more comfortable experience at the Tokyo Games if athletes are vaccinated against coronavirus and is confident organisers will do all they can to protect competitors at the Olympics.

Wednesday marks 100 days until the Games are due to begin in the Japanese capital, a year later than planned after the original dates in 2020 were scuppered by the pandemic.

The health crisis continues to cause issues for nations across the globe but the message from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has thus far been that the show will go on.

While international fans are banned from attending, and social-distancing measures, track-and-trace systems and temperature checks will be enforced, a vaccination against COVID-19 will not be a pre-requisite to participate in Tokyo.

Middle and long-distance runner Dibaba, a silver medallist in the 1500 metres at Rio 2016 and the world record holder over that distance, thinks athletes should have a jab for the Games.

"Yes, I think it's safe and more comfortable to manage, to meet with the other athletes," Dibaba told Stats Perform News.

"[I think it's] better to take the vaccine."

As part of the solutions to try and prevent transmission of the virus at the Games, Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have come up with 'Playbooks' for athletes, officials and the media to follow – which includes having to complete an activity book outlining plans while in the city.

Regular testing will also be enforced, with athletes being checked every four days, and Dibaba acknowledged organisers are doing what they can to put on a safe Games.

"It's hard to feel safe because it's a virus and you can get it at any minute," she added.

"But since it's the Olympics, I know they will do everything they can to protect us."

Dibaba spoke about the difficulties athletes have faced in training for an Olympics facing so much uncertainty.

But the Ethiopian – a world champion in 2015 – is still focused on moving up a step on the podium in Tokyo, even if she feels a crack at breaking her own 1500m world record may have to wait a little while.

"For now I'm getting ready for the Olympics, not for the record," Dibaba said. 

"It's a race, since it's a record anyone can break it if they work hard. If they go for the record I will be there. 

"If not I'm just working for the Olympic Games, not for the record. After the Olympics, I promise you I will try one more time that I will go for the record."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.