Nellie Kim On COVID-19 And Tokyo Olympics Postponement

By Estela de la Torre for International Gymnast Online

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Former Soviet gymnastics legend and current Vice President of FIG and President of the Ambassadors’ Commission, Nellie Kim, gave her perspectives in regard to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the Tokyo Olympics postponement to 2021.

IG: How are you experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic?

NK: It is very sad that countries were not prepared for such a pandemic. In the past if something was happening somewhere in the world, it was not affecting us directly. It is the first time when humanity experiences the same trouble in every corner of our planet.

It affected every person’s life, no matter if this is an adult, or kid, famous, or not, poor or rich. We are all locked down at our homes.

I miss the possibility to meet my friends, my colleagues, to visit my relatives. I miss my job, I miss gymnastics and the life which we call normal.

On the other side, we can find something positive even in such a bad situation. Now we spend more time with our families, we have plenty of time to read books, to do something we have never had time for before. We stopped running and now we have the chance to reflect on our life in the past and think what it should be in the future.

I think our planet needed this pause to have a rest, clean the nature and heal its wounds. One can now see dolphins in Venice. The pollution in the cities has harshly diminished. So, now there is a lot to think about the future of humanity.

IG: What are your thoughts on the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021?  

NK: I think that the postponement of the Olympic Games was the right decision. It turned out that year 2020 has to be an “empty” season for all athletes, because it is impossible to show their best without proper preparation.

IG: What do you advise the already qualified athletes and those who are still seeking Olympic qualification?

NK: During these very strange and uncertain times, my thoughts go daily with all those gymnasts who have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and now have to wait more than a year to realize their dreams.  My thoughts go also with all those who were working so hard to grab the last chances to qualify for the Games.

As a former competitor, I know how hard it is to take a blow like this. I know that for some of you, this year and three months ahead will be a time too long to go through, while for others, it may seem a time too short to get ready and rise to the Olympic challenge. 

But I also know by experience that only our strength, determination and courage can take us through any such challenges in sport and life. 

My heart is with all of you! I know you can come out of this unusual type of “rest”, stronger and ready to continue fighting for your dreams!

Competing for the Soviet Union, Nellie Kim, was the winner of six Olympic medals, five of which are gold. She also claimed 11 medals from World Championships, five of them gold. Kim was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1999.

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