The corona virus continues to spread across the world and wreak havoc on sporting events, both big and small. It has now forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to no later than summer 2021. The Olympic Games were set to start from July 24 to August 9th.
The IOC were originally supposed to have a decision come April, but national team federations such as Canada and Australia pulled their athletes from the Games and Team Australia even told their athletes to prepare for the games in summer 2021 before there was even a final decision made.
The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team was headed to the Olympics after they went 3-0 in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. This was one of their best teams ever assembled as they had a mix of youth, experience and great defense and Team Canada was ranked fourth in the world, the highest standing yet.
Team Canada women’s basketball member Kayla Alexander was set to debut in her first Olympics this year and she took some time out of her day to answer questions regarding the Olympics, COVID-19 and the WNBA. Recently, she signed a standard contract with the Minnesota Lynx.
Q: As a Canadian Senior Women’s National Team member who was vying for a spot on the team, how were you training as COVID – 19 virus was becoming more and more serious?
KAYLA: When it was becoming more serious I was in season in Poland. Things progressed pretty quickly once the NBA suspended the season and the NCAA cancelled March Madness and all spring sports. Shortly after that our season went from the possibility of having a condensed playoff format to cancelled. When I returned home a decision had not yet been made by the COC and IOC, so I was doing what I could at home. My dad has some old workout equipment in the basement so our CB trainer created some strength workouts for me that I could do at home based on the equipment I had. I was also using the Nike NTC app for more endurance/cardio type workouts and yoga.
It was hard, but I am sure many athletes were trying to do the best with what we had. There is no way to replicate all of the skills and physical aspects required to play basketball, at home, so I could only imagine what other athletes felt not having access to pools, climbing walls, pole vaults, tracks, etc.
Q: How did you feel about the IOC still wanting to continue with the Olympics despite the global outbreak?
KAYLA: I think that they, like myself and I am sure many others, were trying to remain positive and see how the virus would play out. None of us know the future, and what would take place, so I think they were waiting and hoping that something positive would happen regarding the virus.
At the same time, it was frustrating not being able to train at the level that I wanted and needed to in order to prepare for the games. I can only imagine the stress this was causing fellow athletes, having to try to stay/ be fit, but also dealing with the unknown of what tomorrow held. I don’t think that the IOC would put the athletes, staff and the world at risk and expect us all to show up and perform if it wasn’t safe, and would have made a decision soon.
Q: What was your real, raw reaction when you got the news that Team Canada was not going to send it’s athletes to the Games?
Heartbroken, sad and upset if I’m being honest. This would have hopefully been my first ever games. However, the leadership role Canada took as a nation, makes me proud of our country. I respected their decision because it showed that their priority was to concentrate on the collective health and well being and take all necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In due time, sports will bring the world together again, when it’s safe for each and everyone of us.
Q: Your thoughts on the IOC’s postponement on the Games to summer 2021 and how it affects your plans going forward?
I think it was the right call, we will all still have a chance to compete in the future when it is safe to do so. It’s also takes a little of the stress out of the situation knowing that we have at the very least an idea of when to expect the games instead of a question mark. I don’t know at what extent it affects my plans going forward because at this time, none of us know the future, we don’t know how long until we find a cure, how long it will spread, when it will be safe again, etc. So I am focused on the present, staying positive and doing my part, and trying my best to stay as ready as I can for when sports are safe again.
Q: Finally, your thoughts on the WNBA season? Should it go on? What do you think the WNBA should do if you were the WNBA commissioner?
I believe Cathy and the league will make a decision when appropriate that prioritizes the health and wellness of everyone. We don’t know what the future holds, but I am sure they will monitor the situation closely and come to a conclusion soon. Being my optimistic self, I’d like to hope that the world quickly heals from this virus and the WNBA can proceed as scheduled, but the health and safety of everyone will always come first.