The Irish rowing team is preparing to adapt to entirely new circumstances as the International Olympic Committee announced that the Olympic Games would be postponed. One of the top Irish coaches said it was the right decision, given the circumstances.
The athletes were increasinlgy expecting the announcement, but were “a little bit gutted” according to team member Philip Doyle, who said the team would now “step back and make a plan”. Doyle and Ronan Byrne took a silver medal in the double at the 2019 World Championships and were set fair to medal at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Ireland have qualified three other boats – the women’s single sculls and the men’s lightweight double, both reigning world champions, and the women’s pair. The Ireland women’s four and the lightweight women’s double also hoped to qualify.
In a statement from Rowing Ireland, the High-Performance Director, Antonio Maurogiovanni said: “We are saddened that our athletes will now not have the opportunity to represent Ireland at the Olympics this year. The sacrifice that they have made and the hours that they have put into training is extraordinary. For them, not to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics this year is hard to accept.
"With the circumstances that we can’t control, our attention now is focused on the future. We have four boats currently qualified, and our goal is still to qualify two more before the Olympics.
"We are in an excellent place for Irish Rowing, and we must all keep up the hard work and focus through these difficult times."
Rowing Ireland’s Chief Executive Officer Michelle Carpenter said: “We are extremely disappointed for our athletes, coaches, their families and our Rowing Ireland family at this time. We have made both personal and professional sacrifices to support them and their chance to compete at the Olympics this year is devastating.
"We will continue to support the athletes, and we look forward to seeing them represent Ireland at future international regattas when we finally flatten this curve and get back to our normal lives of interacting and rowing together.
"We had hoped for six Irish boats in Tokyo and this a testament to the international success that we have achieved in the last number of years and the work that is done by the High-Performance team.
Rowing Ireland will continue to support all of our athletes and coaches, and we look forward to the future and having our athletes represent Ireland again.”