Tokyo Olympics: New Zealand Olympic Committee focusses on athletes' mental welfare after 'traumatic' postponement

The New Zealand Olympic Committee will be prioritising athletes' mental health, as they battle four weeks of isolation as well as having their Olympic dreams postponed.

The situation hasn't been helped by several athletes losing their ability to train for the next month. 

But with this year's games postponed for the first time ever, the immediate focus for New Zealand athletes has moved away from sport.

"We are very very mindful of the mental wellbeing of our athletes," NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith told Newshub.

Blackstick Rachel McCann sees both sides of the coin.

While still competing for New Zealand, the 26-year-old runs a business called 'The Happy Athlete', which focuses on athletes' mental health.

McCann is urging her fellow competitors to narrow their focus to the here and now.

"It's just looking at what you can control," McCann said. 

"I think for a lot of athletes that'll be super important, even though the circumstances aren't super normal that they're training in."

They're circumstances that Michael Phelps - the most decorated Olympian in history - fears may overwhelm some. 

"I hope there's no increase in athlete suicide rates," Phelps told NBC on Friday (NZ time). "Because the mental health component is by far the biggest thing here."

"The postponement is uncharted waters… it was the right decision, but it breaks my heart for the athletes."

Smith reiterated those concerns.

"It's going to be quite a traumatic change for most of our athletes," said Smith. 

"Certainly we want to make sure the support is there to help them if they need it."

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