Musberg (dpa) – Frank Stäbler still has a little bit of hope. Maybe a miracle will happen – and the Summer Olympics will take place in Tokyo this summer as planned.
“I don’t want to give up my dream that quickly,” said the best German wrestler who wanted to end his great career in Japan in August. It is becoming more and more likely that Olympia will be postponed due to the Corona crisis. Baden-Württemberg is slowly becoming friends with this idea. It is already quite certain that, like in almost no other sport, wrestlers are restricted in training by the requirements and measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
Having as little interpersonal contact as possible is the first requirement for virologists to slow the spread of Sars-CoV-2. How should the mat fighters then train? In a fight or sparring, the athletes permanently press their heads and torsos against one another for almost six minutes. It is sweating. In ground combat, the athletes usually wrestle closely. “Of course there is a great risk of droplet infection,” explained Klaus Johann, chief medical officer in the German Ringer Association. And wrestling with a protective mask for the mouth and nose is impractical.
That is why the DRB has reacted and instructed its athletes to stop sparring with other wrestlers for the time being. “We have started to train only in the general athletic area, ie running, cycling, strength training,” explained sports director Jannis Zamanduridis. Because halls and bases have been closed, athletes have to train at home.
The three-time world champion Stäbler is lucky in misfortune: Because of a long hall dispute in his home town, he recently moved into a converted room on his parents’ farm in Musberg and can work there individually. “For me it is now like a golden chicken coop,” said Stäbler of the German Press Agency.
Other contact sports, by the way, take the measures a little less than the wrestlers: With the judokas, after a fitness block, active recovery is currently on the training plan; normal training should only be started again in early April. There is currently no sparring with the boxers either.
As long as the summer games are not officially postponed, Stäbler wants to stick to his training schedule. However, the 30-year-old recognizes major problems. “I am aware that it is very difficult with equal opportunities and the doping problem,” he said. While the German athletes work isolated at home, athletes could train together elsewhere, the DRB fears. In countries such as Turkey or Eastern European and Asian wrestling nations, Zamanduridis believes it is conceivable that athletes can train normally on army sites under quarantine conditions. In addition, there are fewer drug tests worldwide in the crisis.
A rescheduling of Olympia seems to be necessary for reasons of equal opportunities alone. “If the situation worsens or remains just as bad, I would vote for a postponement,” said Stäbler. Even if this could have “devastating” consequences for him: If the games are scheduled for 2021 or not until 2022, it remains to be seen whether he will have to qualify again and whether it will work again.