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Coronavirus: Ireland hockey stars 'gutted' but supportive of decision to postpone Olympics

Katie Mullan

Ireland Hockey captain Katie Mullan says her side are 'gutted' at the decision to postpone the Olympic Games until 2021.

A joint statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed the news, following a conference call on Tuesday.

The Games will now not take place in 2020, but will happen no later than the summer of 2021.

The Irish women's hockey team had qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever by seeing off Canada in a two-legged play-off in November.

Since then, everything had been geared towards their preparation for Tokyo this summer.

First, though, their training camp in Malaysia was cancelled before scheduled warm-up games against China in Dublin were also called off as the Games were thrown into ever-increasing doubt.

Now, at least, the uncertainty is over and Ballymoney player Mullan says the squad realise that the correct decision has been made.

“As players we are gutted with the announcement to postpone the games as our excitement has been building, however we totally understand why this decision has been made," she said.

"What matters most is players' health and wellbeing, as well as our families and friends, and we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at this difficult time.

"As a team it has been strange doing so much individual training, but everyone has been pushing on with home-gym programmes and trying to increase their fitness with running and cycling.

"This is a big change for so many people, but everyone is the same situation. We’ll be doing our best to use this as an opportunity.”

Ireland, of course, were going into the Games off the back of the World Cup silver medals they won in August 2018.

Head coach Sean Dancer said the squad are already eagerly anticipating the resumption of their preparations for the rescheduled tournament.

"Our athletes are continuing to train as much as possible given the current circumstances, and we really look forward to being able to train together as a group again when it is appropriate to do so," he said.

"The decision to postpone the Games not only puts athletes' welfare first, but also the welfare of much wider communities and countries. These are unprecedented times, and while incredibly stressful for so many, the decision to postpone the Games is one we support."

Belfast Telegraph