No fan will hit the riders hard in Tokyo, says Rutherford

LONDON: Former British Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford (Photo) says the lack of a crowd atmosphere at the Tokyo Games will have a negative effect on some athletes, but he still expects some jaw-dropping action in the 17 days of competition.

The struggling Tokyo Games begin on July 23 – a year later than expected after the Covid-19 pandemic forced it to be postponed.

With Tokyo in the grip of the virus, no fans will be allowed to enter the venues, including the Olympic Stadium which will host athletics.

“It’s going to be eerily quiet in the stadium,” said the 34-year-old. Reuters.

Rutherford won gold at the London 2012 Games on the so-called Super Saturday when a huge crowd roared him, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill to run to glory in a magical hour.

“I remember in Rio they didn’t use the upper level of the athletics stadium for any problem and the crowd felt a little less and I remember talking to others and saying that it looked a bit more like a Diamond League rather than an Olympic Final, it didn’t have the same buzz, ”he added.

“But the athletes in Tokyo would kill for that level of support compared to what they get.”

Rutherford believes field event athletes could be particularly disadvantaged by the lack of crowd “energy”.

“The interaction with the crowd in the jumps is huge,” said Rutherford, who will cover athletics for Discovery’s on-screen team for Tokyo in the UK and Ireland, at the studio launch. innovative chain virtual reality cube. .

“People wonder if I would have won without the crowd in London, and I don’t really know how I would have responded.

“But there were definitely times during the final where the crowd helped raise my level of play. No fan is going to affect things that much. “

However, he says that despite what will be a “bizarre” stadium and village, the athletes will continue to produce the goods.

“One thing we can count on is that the athletes will be desperate to compete,” he said. “We’ve seen some amazing performances this year and the women’s 100m will be unreal.

“Then, with the technology wars with shoes, we’ll see some crazy times in the middle distance races. The Games will be remembered for their fantastic performances, but also for the pandemic Games. I just hope it’s not a one-off for some and they come back to Paris (2024) and experience what the Olympics are meant to be. “

Rutherford had hoped to compete in Tokyo 2020 but retired in 2018 due to injuries. No British male long jumper has qualified for Tokyo.

“It’s horrible, I’m really disappointed,” he said, describing the British track and field team as a mixed bag that will provide a shock medal or two.

British eyes will all be on sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, although Rutherford has said it is a shame she has to shoulder so much of a burden.

“It’s sad that in the last two Olympics there have been a number of athletes who have absorbed this pressure. In London, there was Mo and Jess and obviously I stopped by too.

“Now it’s all on Dina. But she’s a big game player as we’ve seen in Worlds. I don’t fear for her that it could become too much. She loves big events.

“But it’s unfair if people assume she will win three medals. If it’s a gold, or two silvers, or a gold and a bronze, that would be amazing. “- Reuters

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