Tokyo: Empty stands and a year-long wait for the Tokyo Games did little to dampen the enthusiasm of America’s top track athletes, who told reporters on Thursday they were adjusting to the challenges of competition in the midst of the pandemic.
“No matter what it takes, they’re going to kick us out, (I’m) just excited to be able to compete again and follow what they think is best for us,” said Clayton Murphy, who took the bronze. . in the men’s 800 meters at the Rio Games, the first time the United States has won a medal in that event since 1992.
The 26-year-old middle-distance runner is among those who have yet to travel to Japan, after USA Track & Field canceled a scheduled training camp in Tokyo in May over health and safety concerns.
When they arrive, the fanfare and cheering crowds they enjoyed during the team trials in Eugene, Oregon will be remembered faintly, after organizers banned spectators from attending the venues amid public opposition in Japan to hosting the Games.
“You’ve got to kind of leverage yourself, your competition, your competitive spirit and find that little bit of dynamism in other ways,” Murphy said.
U.S. First Lady Jill Biden will lead the U.S. diplomatic delegation to the Olympics, leaving Washington, DC on Wednesday in support of Japan, a vital ally.
“Having the support of the First Lady of the United States of America is huge,” said Will Claye, a three-time Olympic medalist in the triple jump in Tokyo.
“(That) says a lot about, you know, the people who run our country.”