AOC call a relief: gold medallist Tallent

Olympic gold medallist Jared Tallent is relieved Australia will not send a team to the Tokyo Olympics in the unlikely event the Games take place in 2020.

Relief was the overriding emotion for Olympic gold medallist Jared Tallent and many others after the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) revealed its unprecedented response to Tokyo 2020.

The AOC last Thursday announced it was full steam ahead for the Tokyo Olympics despite COVID-19 putting a halt to so many elements of day-to-day life in Australia, even floating the idea of several extreme isolation measures in coming months.

The AOC provided fresh advice on Monday that athletes should instead prepare for postponement of the Games until 2021, advising them to focus instead on the health of themselves, their families and the broader public.

Tallent, who won the 50km walk gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics after Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin's retrospective doping ban in 2016, was among those who had questioned whether the event should go ahead this year.

Countless other athletes held the same view privately, along with coaches and officials who worried about the mental health of the success-driven stars of the show.

"It was getting to a stage where a lot of athletes were struggling to find places to train and worrying about whether you should be training," Tallent told the ABC.

"For me it's a huge relief. I'd been planning on going to Japan in early April to hopefully qualify for Tokyo and that had been cancelled.

"Then I was getting stressed in terms of how I was going to qualify for the Games if it did go ahead."

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll made a point of thanking Athletes' Commission chair Steve Hooker on Monday for his "valuable contribution to discussions today and over the last week, representing the views of our athletes".

Olympic hopefuls and qualifiers contacted by AAP on Monday largely expressed relief, but there was also plenty of fear and uncertainty created by the health crisis and the prospect of the Olympics being postponed or cancelled for the first time during peacetime.

Chief executive Leigh Russell halted Swimming Australia's high-performance program and praised the AOC, saying "we must focus on our families and our communities at this challenging time".

There has been some mixed messages about whether the pandemic will result in postponement or cancellation of the Olympics, although the IOC declared on Monday that cancellation was not on its agenda.

"For it to be cancelled would be absolutely devastating," Tallent said.

"I was planning to retire after Tokyo. This would have been my fourth Olympics.

"I'd been training for the last four years for this .. I'd be feeling like 'what have I done for the last four years'.

"Now it's push on for another year hopefully."


AAP