Olympics 2020: Justin Rose backs decision to delay Tokyo Games
Rose tells Sky Sports News he has "sympathy" for athletes in training for Tokyo; reigning Olympic champion says golf's potential early return could create "buzz"
By Jamie Weir
Last Updated: 26/03/20 11:21am
Olympic golf champion Justin Rose has welcomed the decision to delay the Tokyo Games by a year, feeling it was becoming increasingly inevitable.
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The Olympics was due to be held in Japan from July 24 to August 9 but has been rescheduled for next summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirming the Games will be held no later than the summer of 2021.
Rose, who won his gold medal at the Rio 2016 Games when golf returned to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, insists he will be there ready to defend his title whenever the Tokyo Games do go ahead.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Rose said: "It (letting the Games go ahead) was creating an unfair playing field. Some countries were in total lockdown. In other countries, athletes were able to train as normal.
"With golf, your whole calendar is very focused on one week, to the next week, to the next week. Whereas in many sports, especially track and field, it's a two-year process trying to gear into the Olympics, so I have a lot more sympathy for some of those athletes.
"The Olympics has been a huge gift in my career. It's something that I've been so proud of and it was so fun to be a part of. The opportunity to win another one would be huge.
"It's something that's really resonated with golf fans. I've been announced on the first tee for the best part of four years as Olympic champion and it definitely warms the insides every time I hear it."
Rose slipped from 1st to 14th in the world rankings over the last year, missing three of his last four cuts and without a top-three finish since last June's US Open, but is treating this enforced break as a chance to work on his game and hopes to see golf as one of the first sports to return to the sporting calendar.
"I wasn't playing particularly well when things got called off," Rose added. "There were certainly areas of my game which need some attention, and I'm also viewing it as an opportunity to work on my fitness and try to make some gains.
"I want to be tournament ready when we do get back to playing. I'm lucky to have a simulator and a putting green in my garage, so I can work on some of the technical side of the game but nothing simulates actually playing golf.
"We have a huge advantage being an outdoor sport and in terms of close proximity, you have your caddie but that's a personal relationship that you can control. Obviously if you're playing a contact sport, you don't have a lot of control over what the other guys do.
"The world needs it, especially if there are lots of people still stuck at home having to isolate. A bit of sport would be a good thing, and if golf was the first sport back, it would create a bit of a buzz and maybe find a new audience."