Olympic Dreams Deferred: Chicago-Area Athletes Look to 2021

It’s official. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be delayed one year. Organizers on Monday announced a new kick-off date for the games: July 23, 2021. 

The Summer Games will run through Aug. 8, 2021, and the Paralympic Games are now set for Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021. 

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The International Olympic Committee said in a said in a statement the postponement gives “health authorities and all involved in the organization of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In February, sailor Maggie Shea, a Wilmette native who grew up sailing on Lake Michigan, qualified to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics with teammate Stephanie Roble.

She said some of her fellow athletes were initially disappointed by the postponement, but soon realized it’s for the better.

“Everyone had a short period of time that they were a bit emotional and bummed and that’s totally human but they got over that immediately,” Shea said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to says that we support the efforts, it all makes sense and it’s the important thing to do.”

Volleyball player Kelsey Robinson, who grew up in Bartlett, won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Games and was playing professionally in Turkey when a February match with an Italian team was continuously postponed.

“For us to go play professionally, outside of national teams when we’re playing all year-round, it’s mostly international, a lot of international events going on,” Robinson said. “So I think we were just very aware of it before it even hit the states.”

Robinson is currently training at home and vying for a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, which hasn’t released its roster yet.

Volleyball player Thomas Jaeschke, from Wheaton, also won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Games and is vying for a spot on the men’s national team. 

Jaeschke is taking advantage of the extra year to recover from a shoulder injury he sustained last fall.

“For me, it’s not the worst thing in the world,” Jaeschke said. “Being that I was coming back from an injury and I was gonna try and push it to try and get back.”

Shea, Jaeschke and Robinson join “Chicago Tonight” on Monday to discuss how the coronavirus outbreak has impacted their Olympic aspirations.

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