Tokyo Olympics 2021: NZOC assurances give swimmer Lewis Clareburt training go-ahead

Tokyo 2021 will be Lewis Clareburt's first Olympics and news that New Zealand is committing to them brings a sense of relief for the country’s top swimming hope. 

"We haven't had anything to work towards for the past year," he tells Newshub. "Knowing they're giving it the full commitment means we can kick back and start to train pretty hard."

The NZ Olympic Committee's plans to power on with their preparations mean athletes like Clareburt can focus on training, no longer in limbo about Tokyo.  

"It's pretty hard, because I haven't had much racing," he says."Deciding what to do over the next few months has been pretty difficult." 

The Games will be like no other seen before, with little - if any - crowds expected, and strict COVID-19 protocols and bubbles a likely reality. 

Commonwealth Games and world championship bronze medallist Clareburt got a taste of what they might mean, when he contested the Swimming World Cup in Hungary last August.

"I guess I'm lucky that last year I went over to Budapest and got the chance to test out how COVID situations would work in terms of competitions." 

Says NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith: "The Games will be a very different Games. What we have seen at the Olympic Games, we will not be seeing in the immediate future." 

The NZOC is committed to ensuring everyone is given the best chance to perform - a major undertaking given the current climate and reports the Japanese Government have already concluded they'll be cancelled. 

"Our view has not changed," says Smith. "If there are Olympics in July 2021, our job is to make sure our sports and athletes are as prepared as they can be." 

Athletes and organisers face a mammoth challenge to make Tokyo 2021 a success.