Next week, billions of us would be tuning in to watch the 32nd Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, cheering on the world’s finest athletes. Instead, due to the novel coronavirus, the Tokyo Games have been postponed to Summer 2021, the first time ever an Olympics has been postponed.
On Thursday, July 23 we were joined for a virtual conversation with Olympians, Donna de Varona (1960 Rome Games, 1964 Tokyo Games) and Rika Saito (2008 Beijing Games), to discuss this historic decision and its implications. From the economic and political toll to what it means for the thousands of athletes slated to compete, the International Olympic Committee’s costly decision to postpone has affected millions. With Donna and Rika’s insights, IWF provided an insider view to this decision. Jeanne Meserve, award-winning journalist and former CNN correspondent, moderated the conversation.
A record-breaking dual Olympian, trailblazing sportscaster and preeminent advocate for women and girls in sport, Donna de Varona has pioneered a path for millions. As first President and Chairman, she was instrumental in establishing the Women’s Sports Foundation. Donna is a Team USA Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame member and the first woman to cover the Olympics for the United States. In 2015, Donna, an IWF Connecticut member and Leadership Foundation Board Director, helped found the IWF-EY Women Athletes Business Network (WABN).
Rika Saito is a 2008 Weightlifting Olympian for Team Japan, setting a country-record with her 209kg total in competition. She now serves as a member of the Athlete Commission for the 2020 Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Rika is a leader for global anti-doping initiatives working with Japan Anti-Doping Agency and a 2019 WABN mentee.
In 1964, Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics, a deeply symbolic Games that reintroduced Japan to the world after the devastation of World War II. Next year, Tokyo will play host to a Games that will reintroduce the world to itself. I hope this virtual conversation inspires you and offers you support as we all continue to persevere in a world being reshaped.