For several weeks, the IOC and host nation Japan held off making the decision in the hope that somehow, things would be back to normal in time for the Games to go ahead this year. However with the qualification process for many sports turned upside down by tournament and event cancellations, an extremely stressful situation was created for the athletes.
For one PNG athlete, the deferral was welcome news indeed.
Seven months ago, Rellie Kaputin thought her dream of representing her country at the highest level was over when she fractured a bone in her foot. The Oceania Champion and Pacific Games gold medallist had just attended to her visa renewal and was all set to return to Australia to continue her training for the Games when the freak accident occurred.
Coach Phillip Newton immediately recognised the problem was serious when he saw the image of a badly swollen foot. An x-ray revealed a fracture of the right fibular bone. What followed was a lonely six-month rehab when Kaputin at times felt alone and forgotten.
The three times a week travel from Nine-Mile to the Taurama High Performance facility was in itself a major challenge for a while, with taxis often the only option.
What kept Kaputin going was a steely determination not to let this setback destroy her dream. She kept going when many others would have given up.
Her champion qualities saw her through this dark period. Even when Kaputin was finally able to return to training in February, coach Newton had doubts that she could be reach the standard required in the short time that was left. The news last week that the Games would be postponed has now taken the pressure off and she has 12 months to qualify the Games.
“With this second chance offered to me I will complete every training session as if it is the most important session available to me in my quest to be an Olympian,” said Kaputin.
“I’d like to again thank HP physio Hendriella Vilosi and Matthew Natush for their support in getting me back on track as well as PNGOC and HP for their assistance.”
Coach Newton said: “We have welcomed the prompt decision by the IOC to reschedule the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as it gives Rellie a realistic timeframe to regain the world class form she was exhibiting in July last year. Now that she has fully overcome what may have been a career ending injury, with continued support, she has the opportunity to improve her world ranking and reach her goal of representing her country at the biggest international event in world sport.”