Olympian reacts to news Tokyo Games will move forward: 'It gives me a sense of peace'

Gold medalist Jordan Burroughs said the announcement that the Tokyo Olympics will go forward next year gives him "something that I can truly prepare for."
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/ Source: TODAY

The announcement by organizers of the Tokyo Olympics that the Games need to be held next year at "any cost" is music to the ears of star wrestler Jordan Burroughs.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist found out during an interview with TODAY's Keir Simmons on Tuesday that the Olympics look to be moving forward next year no matter what after having been postponed from this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"This is like the first time I'm hearing this, so this is like real time," Burroughs said. "Actually, I think it's tremendous. It gives me a sense of peace."

Japanese minister Seiko Hashimoto said Tuesday that the effort put in by the athletes and organizers means the Olympics need to be held next year regardless of the state of the pandemic.

"All the people involved with the games are working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts toward next year under the circumstances they've been handed," Hashimoto said at a press conference, according to Kyodo News. "I think we have to hold the games at any cost. I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus."

Hashimoto's determination was a welcome signal to many athletes who have had to weigh whether to keep training for another year after having their dreams deferred this summer.

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles told TODAY in April that she cried after hearing the Olympics were postponed even though she agreed with the decision, and she has since resumed her training.

Biles is not alone, as the official website for the Tokyo Olympics features a video of multiple athletes pledging to keep working toward competing despite this year's setback.

"This decision makes me excited because now I know, surely, that I have something that I can truly prepare for," Burroughs said.

Masa Takaya, a spokesperson for Japan's Olympic organizing committee, told Simmons the country is planning for the worst while hoping for the best next year.

"That is why we are taking this approach to come together, coming up with COVID-19 countermeasures," he said.

There is the possibility that there may be no spectators allowed, similar to many other major sports that have held games during the pandemic. Athletes may also not be staying together in the traditional Olympic village.

However, organizers have emphasized that there will be no reduction in the number of athletes participating.

Burroughs, 32, is hoping to qualify for his third Olympics after finishing ninth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

"If they're holding the Olympics, I'm going to be there," Burroughs said.

Japan is aiming for the quadrennial event to be a sign of hope for a world damaged by the pandemic.

"The games taking place next year will become a symbol of unity and solidarity," Takaya said.