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Adam Peaty: Tough to know whether Olympics should go ahead in middle of pandemic

Reigning 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty said there was no “right answer” as to whether the Tokyo Olympics should be going ahead in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games were pushed back a year owing to Covid-19 and the virus has meant a number of curbs are in place for the delayed event – with crowds largely excluded.

Tokyo is under a state of emergency which will run throughout the Games with the torch relay also impacted by virus concerns.

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Peaty said: “Obviously, you have got to think about the normal people who do live here.

“But on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have got to have the realisation and respect the athletes who have trained [for] five years, every single day getting up at 5am, and going to bed at 10.30pm with a screaming baby.

“They commit their whole lives to this moment, for this three-week, four-week-long event.

“You are never going to get the right answer. You have got to look at it in a way that if you sat everyone around the table, everyone’s going to have an opinion.

“For me, I think, obviously, I am biased because I want them to happen because I want to race, but I kind of feel for the home nation who do not want these Games to happen, or you know, people back home who do not want these Games to happen.

“You have seen it at the Euros where you see a lot of people together and it could be a super spreader [event], we just don’t know.

“And for me, I am double vaccinated, and I have taken every single measure to make sure that I am not going to spread it to anyone else if I did have it.

“That’s all I can do. And some athletes are coming out here without any vaccinations and you have got to ask the same question to them.

“So it’s not an easy answer, unfortunately.”

Defending Olympic title ‘not a distraction’

Peaty says the prospect of becoming the first Team GB swimmer to defend an Olympic title is “not a distraction”.

The 26-year-old took gold in the 100m breaststroke in Rio, and broke his own world record en route to another at the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in 2019.

The Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth champion has set the 15 fastest 100m breaststroke times in history, his quickest of 56.88 being a second faster than Holland’s Arno Kamminga, who set 57.9 at the Dutch National trials in May.

Ahead of the Games, which begin on Friday, Peaty said the chance of another world record was “within reach, if I get my preparation right”.

He said: “Going into these Games next week, no British swimmer has ever defended an Olympic title.

“I think that is obviously in the back of my mind that I want to do that.

“But it’s not a distraction and obviously, as every Olympics, I want to inspire as many people as they come back home, and especially this year, when people have been through such a rough time that we can show that just because we have been through that doesn’t mean that we have to stand still, or you know, retreat, or kind of take a step backwards.

“We can always, you know, go through that adversity with a bit of British humour and say, ‘You know what? Let’s have this one.'”

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