The curtain of the Olympic Games is very close to opening in the land of the Rising Sun. A year after the postponement of this XXXII Olympiad of the modern era in Tokyo, Covid-19 obliges, the fight to participate will have left some lost on the side of the road. The start of hostilities is scheduled for Saturday, July 24, with its share of favorites but also many absent. The sentence is now irrevocable, here is a non-exhaustive list of those who will not be on the Olympic stage.
They are not qualified
Often presented as the main rival of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte will not be in the Tokyo pools this summer. At 36, the enfant terrible of American swimming will not be able to compete in his fifth Olympic Games after missing the minimums. A disappointment for the one who has already grabbed six titles for twelve Olympic medals in total.
Same disappointment for Haut-Savoyard, Christophe Lemaitre. Double bronze medalist at the Olympic Games, the 31-year-old sprinter, affected by the Covid-19 in October and far from his standards, failed to achieve the times required by the French Athletics Federation over 100 m and 200 m. He was not selected for the 4x100m relay either. A season to forget also for Mahiedine Mekhissi. The 36-year-old Frenchman, three consecutive Olympic medals from 2008 to 2016, tried until the last moment to get his ticket over 3,000 m steeplechase, without success.
Other figures in sport have suffered the same fate. The American legend Kelly Slater, 11 times world champion, was unable to qualify, in December 2019 in Hawaii, for the first Olympic Games in surfing history. But the Floridian is the first on the list of replacements, leaving the door open to him from the first announced package. A small chance that the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele will not have, already absent in 2016 in Rio and who, at 38, will not participate in his fourth Games. Removed from the track, he did not want to compete in the Ethiopian selections for the marathon, his last chance to take part in the Olympics.
Eternal, sprinter Justin Gatlin seemed to be. Winner of the 100m in Athens in 2004, the American – suspended for doping from 2006 to 2010 – had made a resounding return to London in 2012 with bronze, and silver in Rio in 2016 over the same distance. In June, he finished the final of the American selections last and injured, at 39 years old. End of an era also for Mo Farah. The 38-year-old Briton, quadruple gold medalist over 5,000 and 10,000 m in London and Rio, has not achieved the Olympic minimums to hope to see Tokyo.
She also never ceases to suffer repercussions in her career. Double reigning Olympic champion in the 800m, the South African Caster Semenya (30), often singled out for her physical superiority , was forced to climb the 5,000m distance. She did not want to undergo the heavy hormonal treatment requested by the International Federation to continue competing in the 800m or the 1,500m. But over 5,000 m, Semenya could not reach the minimums requested .
Successor of Tony Estanguet in Rio , the 33-year-old French céiste, Denis Gargaud, was not selected for Tokyo, and this from October 2020. The reigning Olympic champion in category C1 nevertheless became champion of France in April and of France. ‘Europe last May. He appears as a replacement within the delegation of the Blues. Long placed on the front of tatami mats internationally, judokate Audrey Tcheumeo (31) will not participate in the Games either. The double Olympic medalist in – 78 kilos failed to qualify and gave way to Madeleine Malonga, four years her junior.
They did not come
Already absent five years ago in Rio, LeBron James will not be on the trip to Tokyo with Team USA either. At 36, “King James”, two-time Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012, preferred to focus on the start of the new NBA season with the Los Angeles Lakers after a first-round play-off loss to Phoenix and a season plagued by injuries.
Another big absence on the American side, the queen of tennis Serena Williams and her 23 Grand Slam titles. Gold medalist in singles in London on Wimbledon turf in 2012 and triple winner in doubles with her sister Venus (2000, 2008, 2012), her Olympic record is already full. The 39-year-old American now has her eyes set on New York and the US Open at the end of August.
Two other legends of the yellow ball preferred to desert the men’s table. The Swiss Roger Federer , in delicacy with his right knee and in full questioning about the rest of his career at almost 40 years old, has decided to ignore the only major title missing from his record. Already in gold in Beijing in 2008 in singles, then in doubles in 2016 in Rio, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal has not played since Roland-Garros last May and says he also wants to regenerate physically. Two notable absences in a competition decimated by a wave of forfeits, which leaves the door wide open to Serbian Novak Djokovic in search of a Golden Slam this season.
In June 2019, the American and true icon of international golf, Tiger Woods, explained that the Tokyo Olympics were “a big goal”. Since then, months have passed and things have turned sour for the 45-year-old Californian. Last February, the “Tiger” seriously injured his leg in a car crash near Los Angeles . He has started a long rehabilitation phase of his right leg and will therefore not participate in the Games for the first time.
Become world champion in September 2020, the French rider Julian Alaphilippe has decided not to be part of the French delegation . His name was on everyone’s lips when it came time to bring up an Olympic title on a difficult route and suited him. Fourth in Rio in 2016 in the road race, he expressed personal reasons with his recent paternity and the desire to rest after the Tour de France, with a view to the defense of his world title next September .