Caitlyn Jenner Says Olympics Being Postponed Is 'Devastating' for Athletes (Exclusive)


The Olympic gold medalist says athletes have been put in a 'difficult' situation.

Caitlyn Jenner feels for the athletes whose Olympic dreams have been put on hold. 

During an interview with ET's Lauren Zima on Tuesday, Jenner opened up about the International Olympic Committee's decision to postpone the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, until 2021, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Jenner won the gold medal in the men's decathlon competition at the 1976 games in Montreal. 

"Obviously we have to do what's right, and I think they're probably doing what's right by postponing it a year," Jenner says. "But from an athlete standpoint, it's devastating."

"I mean... when I was training, I trained those four years to compete on the 29th and 30th of July in 1976, and all my training was all geared towards that, to peak on those days. For the athletes out there, all of a sudden you throw this in, and now they don't even know when they're going to compete. So, it's difficult," she adds. 

Jenner referenced the 1980 Summer Olympics which were held in Moscow, and boycotted by the United States and over 60 other countries. "These athletes had been training for four years, and then we don't even go," she recalls. "It can be devastating for an athlete." 

"I was very fortunate. I knew I was going to retire at the Games [in 1976]. That was going to be my last meet," adds Jenner, who was joined during the interview by Sophia Hutchins. "But what if I had said... 'Maybe I should go another four years.' Train for another three and a half years, and then you don't even go? That would have been devastating. Very, very difficult."

On Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed that he and the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach have agreed to delay the 2020 Summer Olympics by one year. The event was supposed to start on July 24. 

Earlier this week, Australia and Canada both announced they would not send their athletes to the 2020 competition in Japan as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee also said on Monday they would like the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo Games.

In a joint statement, USOPC board chair Susanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland cited the wishes of U.S. athletes after a survey was sent to roughly 4,000 athletes over the weekend. 

"Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner," Lyons and Hirshland said. "To that end, it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors."

See more on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected events around the world in the video below.