Edmonton swimmer reflects on missing 1980 Olympics as COVID-19 potentially threatens 2020 Games

The International Olympic Committee seems adamant that the 2020 Summer Olympics will go ahead in Japan.

However, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, things are changing on a daily basis, so there’s no doubt the Games will remain up in the air for the next few weeks.

This is familiar to Edmonton’s Cheryl Gibson. It was in 1980 that athletes in a lot of western nations wouldn’t get a chance to compete for their country because of a boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

The nations decided against going after Russia invaded Afghanistan.

“By the time we got to our trials, we knew we weren’t going,” Gibson said of Canada’s Olympic swimming trials, which still went ahead despite the boycott. “It’s a big letdown afterwards, you do all that training.”

Gibson had competed in the 1976 Games, winning a silver medal in the 400-metre individual medley. She remembers that helped her cope with missing the 1980 Olympics.

Like many, Gibson is still hopeful that these Summer Games will go ahead. It’ll be a true test of the athletes’ mental strength.

“They’re gonna have to show some real resilience,” Gibson said. “If the Olympics does go ahead, it will be the people who were able to carry on their training and stay with the program even through all the crazy.

“Those will be the people who are successful.”



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