Athol McQueen
Athol McQueen

Kyogle Olympian doubts Tokyo Games will go ahead

A KYOGLE Olympian has aired serious doubts the 2020 Toyko Olympics will go ahead amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

It was recently announced the Olympic flame handover in Athens next week will be held behind closed doors because of coronavirus concerns, and there is widespread speculation the Olympics could be cancelled altogether.

Athol McQueen, 78, who famously floored late American boxer Joe Frazier during a bout in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, would have loved to return to Tokyo this year.

“I’ve been trying to get back there, it would be nice,” he said.

“It didn’t work out that way, everything’s so dear, tickets would have been outrageous.

“I don’t think it will be on, anyway.”

Mr McQueen said that cancelling the Olympics would be devastating to the athletes.

“It would break their hearts,” he said.

“I do feel for anyone who’s trained and trained and tried to get there.

“It’s not only four years, for some of them it’s eight years or 12 years of training.

“But health comes first.”

File shot of former boxer Athol McQueen. McQueen, now aged 78, was a lanky 198cm, 83.5kgs heavyweight when he stepped into the ring against boxing great “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier to contest a quarter-final at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
File shot of former boxer Athol McQueen. McQueen, now aged 78, was a lanky 198cm, 83.5kgs heavyweight when he stepped into the ring against boxing great “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier to contest a quarter-final at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

He said the Olympics wouldn’t be the same with some countries participating, and other countries not sending athletes.

And what would the Olympics be without the crowds of people cheering on competitors?

“It’s like these cricket teams training and playing with no spectators,” Mr McQueen said.

“Who would want to go?”

Mr McQueen said the crowd revved him up during fights - an inextricable element of competitive boxing.

“I remember a bloke from Kyogle who was at the ringside when I fought Joe Frazier,” Mr McQueen said.

“When Joe had me down I heard him say, ‘Get up Kyogle.’”

Meanwhile, Australia’s Olympics broadcaster Seven West Media will be repaid the cost of the Tokyo 2020 broadcasting rights deal should the event be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus.