Michael Phelps Reacts to 2020 Olympics Being Delayed Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Michael Phelps hopes the athletes who were getting ready to compete in the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer use the delay as motivation. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics have been postponed until next year, which means the athletes will have to change their training. Phelps, who 28 Olympic medals for swimming during his career, understands how tough the athletes have to be feeling right now.

"You go through something for four years and we kind of know exactly when it's going to come and our bodies are ready for it, then we have to wait...It's difficult," he said on the NBC News show TODAY. I've tried to replay what I would be going through emotionally at this very time if I was still competing. It's hard to really kind of comprehend it." Phelps went on to offer advice to the athletes, as he said: "I think the biggest thing now is everybody should look at this as an opportunity, another year to work on fine-tuning small things that are going to help you make a big difference...But really, I want everybody to make sure they are taking care of their mental health. It's something that's even more important now."

Last month, the International Olympic Committee announced the new dates for the Olympics, which is July 23 - Aug. 8, 2021. It was originally set to take start on July 24 and end Aug. 9. According to John Hopkins University, there are over 1.4 million cases of coronavirus in the world. And of those 1.4 million cases, over 400,000 are in the U.S.

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"These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic" the IOC said in a news release. The new dates, exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFs. Additionally, they will provide sufficient time to finish the qualification process. The same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020 will be implemented."

Of the 28 medals Phelps won, 23 of them were gold, which is an Olympic record. He won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, and his final Olympics in 2016, Phelps won five gold and medals along with one silver.