‘Massively disappointing’: Families of Aussie Olympians forced to cheer from home

Steve Titmus has been waiting ten years to watch from the grandstands as his daughter swims for Olympic gold. Now, he will have to wait for another three.

On Saturday, organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympics announced overseas spectators would be barred due to COVID-19 concerns. The news means families and family of athletes across the globe will not be able to attend.

Powerhouse: Ariarne Titmus is set for a breakout Olympic Games.Credit:Paul Harris

In a statement released on Saturday, organisers said they made the call in an effort to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to “enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage”.

The statement also explained that based on the present COVID-19 situation, it would be highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed for people from overseas.

The AOC said they are currently working on plans to connect athletes with their families throughout the trip, in particular younger athletes who will be participating in the Olympics for the first time.

Mack Horton’s father, Andrew, said that while the decision to ban overseas travellers was “disappointing”, it was ultimately the right one.

“It’s a sensible decision in light of the current circumstances,” Horton said. “The complexity of safely running the Tokyo Olympics cannot be underestimated and the safety and well-being of the athletes and host nation must come first.

“Just to be able to hold these Games will be a tremendous achievement and we congratulate the IOC for pushing forward.”

IOC President Thomas Bach sympathised with athletes now unable to travel with their families after the announcement.

“I really feel sorry for this situation, but it is a necessary decision because we have to respect
the safety of all the participants,” he said. “We have said from the very beginning that organising these postponed Olympic Games in this situation of a still ongoing pandemic will require sacrifices from everybody, so I hope we can count on their understanding.”

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