JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an unprecedented move, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the summer of 2021. It’s certainly a herculean effort and by far the most significant sporting event to fall victim to the novel coronavirus.
Shannon Miller, a decorated U.S. gymnast with a total of seven Olympic medals, was a member of the gold medal-winning Magnificent 7 team at the 1996 Olympics and currently live in Jacksonville.
In an exclusive interview, Miller joined News4Jax via Skype on “The Morning Show” and agreed that while playing in the Olympics is the ultimate dream for athletes they don’t want to jeopardize their health and this was the right call.
“I think it is and I think the athletes have reflected that in what I inferred and what they shared,” Miller said. “The overall goal is to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible throughout the world, not just athletes.”
“We don’t do this alone. We don’t do this in a vacuum,” she said. “So when you’re talking about athletes, you’re talking about coaches, trainers and really the millions of people that allow us to go out and shine.”
Miller has lived her life setting an example and said she’s heard today’s U.S. Olympic hopefuls say they wanted to do the same and show they were being responsible.
“This is a very difficult decision,” said Miller. “It's not just about sports. Sometimes we think of that handful of athletes that have big endorsements.”
The former Olympic athlete and mother of two added, “For the vast majority of them they are working one, twothree jobs taking care of their families and homeschooling their kids like the rest of us.”
Shannon said postponing the games a few months would not have been a practical solution.
“You don’t just show up on game day and say the work starts now,” Miller said.
She said with social distancing and quarantines, the athletes would not have been able to work out with their trainers and teams and get ready in time to prepare for the games.
“The work started years ago, but the work is now and if you are in quarantine, if you are sheltered in place, you can’t get out and do the things you need to do to be healthy, safe and to work with your teams.”
Miller reiterated the IOC made the right decision. And as an athlete, she knows the athletes stand by that decision and see the bigger picture because they, like she, “want to keep their loved ones and families safe as well.”