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What does the 12-month Olympic Games postponement mean for Australian athletes?

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AOC welcomes decision to delay Tokyo Olympics (0:38)

The Australian Olympic Committee supports the decision to delay the Tokyo Games, and backed Japan to put on the best ever Olympics in 2021. (0:38)

The unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympic Games by 12 months, amid the coronavirus pandemic, has had a monumental impact on the sporting world. Athletes from all around the globe have been left in the dark, wondering what all of this actually means.

Here, we attempt to answer some of the burning questions about our Australian athletes who were bound for Tokyo 2020.

How does a decision of this magnitude effect our athletes?

The Olympic Games is unlike any other sporting event on the planet. Athletes train their whole lives for an opportunity to compete on the world's greatest stage, so to have the chance ripped away at the eleventh hour is a heartbreaking blow which could cause devastating mental implications.

Australian Olympic team chef de mission Ian Chesterman believes the "stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging" for many of the athletes who were bound for Tokyo.

The extra year-long wait could be catastrophic for athletes in the latter years of their career, who may no longer be able to compete at the rescheduled 2021 Games.

It's also worth remembering most athletes competing at the Olympics don't pocket gigantic pay checks each week. They rely on year-round competitions and sponsorship through Olympic exposure. Right now, many of them will be doing it tough financially.

"It's very difficult for many of our athletes," Chesterman admitted. "Some of them could have part-time jobs they don't have anymore. International competitions have stopped now so they don't have the prizemoney they would otherwise get. But we're engaging with athletes to find out if there are any doing it tough and we'll work with them."

What will Australian athletes do until the Olympics in 2021?

The good news for our athletes, and all athletes for that matter, is the fact that nobody will need to re-qualify for the Olympics. Every athlete with a ticket to Tokyo will still have the opportunity to compete in 2021, something which should offer a slice of comfort.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is working closely with the athletes to guide them on the next steps and how to handle the situation.

"We will be working through the implications of the postponement with all our member sports, their athletes and our partners," claimed AOC CEO Matt Carroll. "We [want to] deliver an Australian Olympic Team to Tokyo next year who will make Australians proud."

In the short-term, the federal government's self isolation directives have made living a normal life very difficult for many Australians, and it's no different for our home-based athletes.

Those competing in team sports have been impacted the hardest with self-isolation measures forcing training sessions and team gathering to be abandoned. With nobody quite sure when the bans will be lifted, a huge challenge awaits coaching groups of all sports who will eventually be left to pick up the pieces.

In any case, the AOC is urging its athletes to first and foremost "prioritise their own health" before starting to prepare for the Olympics in the northern summer of 2021.

"While there will still be much to work out as a result of this change, the timing will allow athletes to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control," Chesterman explained. "When the world does come together at the Tokyo Olympic Games, they can be a true celebration of sport and humanity."

How does the postponement impact the Boomers?

Both Australian legend Andrew Gaze and former NBA star Paul Pierce believed the Boomers were destined for a medal in Tokyo. They weren't the only ones, either.

Many feel the current Australian basketball squad is the nation's strongest ever and although there are some aging players on the roster, the year-long delay of the Olympics could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons has stagnated since winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2018. The unscheduled time off from the NBA and order to self-isolate could force Simmons to spend some alone time in the gym working on the flaws in his game, and getting his body right. Another year of Simmons development will surely only benefit the Boomers.

It's also possible teen sensation Josh Green could be suiting up in green and gold a year from now. The 19-year-old is expected to become the latest Australian to reach the NBA when he nominated for the Draft at the end of the season.

On the flip side, Aussie veteran Andrew Bogut will be closing in on 37 years of age by the time the Olympics get going. The big man is in the final stages of his career and may not actually have enough in the tank to hang around for another 12 months.

"Now we know it's going to be in 2021, I'll look at in the next month or two and put together a plan for yay or nay and work out if it's doable," Bogut told ESPN about his chances of playing in Tokyo. "Obviously there was a chance of walking away [after the Olympics], that's obviously changed now so we'll just sit and wait, and first and foremost we just have to wait for the virus to be over and then go from there."

Fellow Australian stars Joe Ingles and Patty Mills will also be another year older but both should still be in their primes.

Could Sally Pearson make a stunning comeback?

Okay, this may be just a little speculative, but one can't help but wonder whether the delay of the Olympics could see one of Australia's greatest ever track and field athletes coming out of retirement.

Sally Pearson, an Olympic gold medalist, retired from athletics in August last year to focus on family. The 33-year-old is expecting to give birth to her first child in July, just weeks out from the originally scheduled Games.

However, it's possible that with an extra year to prepare and return to training, Pearson could take to the track in Tokyo. Even at 34, Pearson would almost certainly be the nation's best chance of a medal in either the 100m sprint or 100m hurdles.

I'm not saying bank on it, but it's something worth considering...

Has Mack's swimming rival been thrown a lifeline?

Undoubtedly the biggest story in the world of swimming since the last Olympics has been Sun Yang's eight-year ban for tampering with an anti-doping test, a decision he has vowed to appeal.

The Chinese star was never going to have an answer on his appeal before the Olympics in late July, but another year could be what he needs to either overturn the decision or have his sentence reduced.

Yang's main rival is Australian Mack Horton. In Rio, Horton got the better of Yang in the 400m freestyle. However, it was Yang who prevailed in the 200m freestyle.

At 28, the Chinese star's career would be all but over if his eight-year ban stands as a return to the pool at 36 years of age is highly unlikely. But another year certainly opens the door for things to change.

Is this good or bad news for our Rugby Sevens teams?

Well, in short, it's a little bit of both.

Our Australian women, who are the defending Olympic champions, may sit second on the Sevens ladder, but are in the middle of an epic losing streak to the New Zealand Black Ferns. Star player Charlotte Caslick has been missing much of this campaign with a nagging hamstring injury.

The Olympic delay would certainly be a positive for the women who would be offered time to reacquaint Caslick into the side as they look to rediscover their touch that landed the gold medal in Rio.

For the men, the halt in proceedings has come at precisely the wrong time. Men's coach Tim Walsh, who led our women to glory in Brazil, has the group playing as well as ever. In the past two Sevens tournaments in Los Angeles and Vancouver, the men have reached the semifinals and final, respectively.