‘If not now, quando?’ Alistair Brownlee says Tokyo 2020 should go ahead

Alistair Brownlee has backed the International Olympic Committee’s decision to proceed with the rescheduled Games amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying a stripped-back Games will be better than none at all.

Tokyo 2020 begins on Friday to an unprecedented backdrop with the host city currently in a state of emergency, meaning fans are barred from the majority of venues and athletes must respect a strict code of conduct. It means much of the traditional Olympic experience will be severely diluted but Brownlee, a gold medallist in the triathlon at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, believes cancelling the event would have been far less palatable to competitors.

“I think they should go ahead," Egli ha detto. “I think the timing is going to be difficult but I think it was always going to be difficult. ‘If not now, quando?’ is the argument I put forward to that. It provides a great opportunity to show that these events can get back to some sort of normality.

“It’s obviously a shame that the Olympics is not going ahead as it would normally. It’s missing out so much of what the Olympics is about but I think, given the context we are in, it’s a fantastic triumph that it is happening. I think the Olympics in this form is much better than no Olympic Games for every single athlete.”

Brownlee will not be defending his title this year after injury problems led him to fall short of a place in the British men’s team. He believes his brother, Jonny, who won triathlon silver in Rio, will be among the medal contenders again for a contingent led by the 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty.

“I think [Peaty] is going to be massive in swimming, he is just an absolute world-class performer," Egli ha detto. “Watching him compete is going to be fantastic.

“Jonny is in great shape. He’s prepared for the conditions, he is fit, healthy and ready to go. To be honest he’s not the favourite, he has been in the last couple of Games but there are no favourites in that race really, it’s wide open. He has a very good chance of a medal; winning is probably relatively unlikely but, that said, it might happen.”

Brownlee was speaking at a Guardian Live event with his fellow decorated Olympians Fatima Whitbread and Mary Peters. Whitbread is concerned athletes have “not been able to peak” for the Games, with smaller events having been cancelled or postponed, and fears they will miss out on a valuable part of the Olympic experience at Tokyo 2020.

“The athletes will be shipped in and out quite quickly and that’s a bit sad in a way because they lose the spirit of what the Games is about: bringing people together, having that spirit of fair play and helping support one another," lei disse.

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