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McKillop fears for the Games

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Michael McKillop. Photo by Luc Percival/Sportsfile

Michael McKillop. Photo by Luc Percival/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE / Luc Percival

Michael McKillop. Photo by Luc Percival/Sportsfile

Michael McKillop has won gold medals at three Paralympic Games. He fears he will not get a chance to be successful at a fourth Games in Tokyo next year.

McKillop is the first elite athlete to raise the prospect of Tokyo 2021 not happening even after this year's Games were postponed by 12 months.

"It's quite scary," he said on a conference call for his sponsors Allianz yesterday, "quite scary when you really think about it. The Olympics and Paralympics are about athletes coming together from every country in the world. Is every country in the world going to have Covid-19 under control, with everybody tested, by July, August and September of next year?"

Put in such stark terms, the 30-year-old McKillop is making a real point. Paralympians often have underlying health conditions - the Ballymena man does himself, living with Cerebral Palsy.

Vaccine

"It's down the right side of my body, including my lung, will it be safe for me to compete next year? With a vaccine, yes. Will there be a tried and trusted vaccine by then?"

McKillop doesn't answer that question - nobody can accurately. But the inference is there, the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games are not at all certainties to happen next year.

If they don't, he believes world sport will move on and begin planning for Paris in 2024. "I can't see them trying again in 2022, it would completely mess up the annual calendar of so many sports."

"At 30 it's time for me to stop after Tokyo. I'm married and we're thinking about starting a family. It will be time for me to get a proper job and forget about disappearing from home for six weeks at a time to go to warm-weather training camps."