In Japan, boxing nurse’s Olympic dream crushed by COVID-19

By Ju-min Park and Kim Kyung Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese nurse Arisa Tsubata has skilled round her work shifts for over a 12 months to arrange for a last Olympic boxing qualifier within the hope of creating it to the Tokyo Video games this summer time.

That dream was shattered after the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) cancelled the boxing qualifier resulting from happen in June and mentioned it could allocate spots to athletes based mostly on their world rankings in recent times.

The change in standards has successfully shut the door on many Olympic hopefuls akin to Tsubata, whose rankings aren’t ok to earn them an computerized qualification for the Olympic Video games in Tokyo. Different qualifying competitions for the Olympics have additionally been cancelled.

(Open in an exterior browser to see an image story on the Japanese boxing nurse)

With a purpose to deal with her boxing, the 27-year previous stop her job at a serious hospital in January to tackle a much less demanding and decrease paid place at a smaller psychiatric clinic.

Since then, she has skilled over three hours a day in the course of the week and further hours on Saturdays, solely taking Sundays off to relaxation or to get a therapeutic massage.

“It’s very disappointing,” mentioned Tsubata, who at the moment works on the Life Assist Clinic in Tokyo. “I had been working so onerous for a 12 months after the postponement of the Olympics, and it’s so irritating that I don’t even have the correct to compete.”

Japan has mentioned the Olympic Video games, delayed in 2020 resulting from COVID-19, will go forward however questions stay over the way it will maintain the large sporting occasion mid-pandemic. The nation is at the moment preventing a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

“‘Why did I goal for the Olympics when the coronavirus occurred?’ I requested myself,” she mentioned, additionally questioning “who knew the coronavirus pandemic would come at the moment?”

Her feeling of frustration and uncertainty is shared by many athletes globally whose careers have been thrown into limbo, after the pandemic dashed some folks’s life-long goals of collaborating within the world sporting occasion.

The IOC has a June 29 deadline to wrap up {qualifications} for this 12 months’s Olympics and with the cancelled qualifiers, it now has to allocate about 53 spots in boxing throughout a number of areas based mostly on rating factors since 2017.

In COVID-ravaged India, the top coach of the nation’s nationwide boxing crew Santiago Nieva additionally remembers the “heartbreaking second” when he delivered the information to 4 boxers.

“You are feeling such as you’re taking away their goals,” Nieva mentioned. “They grew to become depressed…. they have been empty, felt empty within the head and physique.”


Tsubata received into boxing about three years in the past to shed pounds, however her coaching coaches rapidly inspired her to compete within the sport and he or she went on to win Japan’s nationwide boxing championship for the middleweight division in 2019.

As a nurse and a boxer, she has combined emotions about whether or not the Olympics resulting from begin in July ought to go forward as circumstances rise.

“As an athlete, contemplating fellow athletes ready for this second, and particularly seeing my probability being taken away, I feel the Olympics ought to occur,” she mentioned.

However, as a nurse, she mentioned it “is perhaps troublesome” for Japan to carry the Olympic Video games if the unfold of the coronavirus will not be contained.

For now, Tsubata is attempting to remain constructive, and is getting ready for her worldwide debut at a event in Russia this month.

She says it’s too early to consider the Olympic Video games in Paris in 2024 and worries she could also be too previous by then to maintain up with the bodily power wanted to compete.

“I can’t say I’m aiming for the following Olympics in Paris, however what I can do is attempt to preserve working onerous step-by-step, at any competitions forward, small or large,” Tsubata mentioned.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Kim Kyung Hoon; Further reporting by Akira Tomoshige; Enhancing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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