Weeks from the start of the Olympic Games, officials announced fans would be banned from attending due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo. The announcement has been a major point of discussion on social media with some people suggesting the Olympics should be canceled.
The Olympics in Tokyo was supposed to be held last year but was postponed due to COVID-19.
“It’s entertainment for some people, but business for us athletes. Canceling... it’s not happening. People have invested so much time and you wouldn’t believe what some have sacrificed for this,” said 29-year-old Olympian Ed Lovett.
Lovett will be competing in his second Olympic games in just a few weeks. Representing the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 110-meter hurdles. His alma mater, the University of Florida, also serves as his training grounds. He admits it’s been a difficult year of training.
“For a long time, venues were closed down. (The) campus was closed down and most gyms were closed ... We had to find grass fields and get some practice in,” Lovett said.
Lovett said without fans, this years’ Olympics will be a different experience from his debut at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“In Rio, it was fun to see everything, and interacting with the fans is amazing,” said Lovett. “You have some runners that use the energy of the crowd to pump them up so this is definitely going to be different... but I understand it’s for safety.”
Lovett said he’s not concerned about competing in Tokyo, which is now under a state of emergency due to rising COVID-19 cases. He said he and his team are vaccinated and continue to get tested for COVID-19 often.
Lovett says there are more restrictions on the Olympic village, limiting who can go in and out.
“They restricted the time we could be at the Olympic Village. We’re going there a few days before the competition and we have to leave right after. Most interactions will be just with other athletes. I’m not really too concerned. At the end of the day, this is a business trip,” Lovett said.
Lovett said he’s a little nervous, but said that’s a good thing. He’s been competing in other international track events in the past year without fans, so he’s used to it.
“The show must go on, and we’re going to do everything we can to stay safe,” said Lovett.
He’ll be flying out to Tokyo at the end of the month and competing in the first week of August.
Lovett created a GoFundMe account to help cover expenses for the Olympics.