Former Olympian shares opinion on Covid-19 situation

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Currently, many high school athletes are quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prohibiting them from playing their respective sports. Amateur and professional athletes alike also feel the impacts of the virus on their areas of expertise.

Tommie C. Smith is a former Olympic athlete who competed at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. He won the gold medal in the Men’s 200 Meters race with a time of 19.38 seconds, setting a world record. At this time, he was a part of the Olympic Project of Human Rights, which was about promoting equality in the world. While on the podium, he raised his gloved hand in a fist to protest injustice and inequality that was happening. He said, “This was a quick thought only hours before Juan Carlos and [I] stood on the victory stand. This moment of truth. This wasn’t part of the Olympic Project of Human Rights. This was the period at the end of the sentence.” In response, the International Olympic Committee expelled him from the games and forced him to return his medal.

As reported by The Classic before, this year’s Tokyo Olympics is postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic. Similarly, the NYC DOE has suspended all after school activities, including the spring sports season. Regarding these postponements, Tommie said, “This is a time where you have to listen to what you can’t see…This virus is deadly.” He feels that the health of these athletes is a greater concern than these sporting events, so they should remain canceled.

In addition to being unable to compete, junior athletes are unable to get scouted by college recruiters. Tommie said, “They can’t do anything but wait because they are fighting an enemy [COVID-19] they cannot see.”  Although nothing can be done in person, students can still contact recruiters in other ways. “They can use the telephone…they can use Skype..they can use other methods of technology,” he said. 

Since student-athletes are forced to remain inside, away from their team, many are figuring out ways to stay in shape without their sports. Tommie explained that although this situation is terrible, there are exercises to do to stay fit.“Pushups, situps, crunches, there are stairs, running around the house…Find a facility like somebody’s backyard. Any place to stay in shape,” he concluded. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”