What Olympics postponement means for Roger Federer and other ageing stars

The postponement of the Tokyo Games could affect the Olympic swansongs of several athletes. Pic: Getty

This week's decision by Olympic officials to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games - while inevitable - spelled disaster for the countless athletes who'd spent the best part of four years preparing for what represents the pinnacle of most of their careers.

With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) buckled to overwhelming pressure and announced that Tokyo 2020 would be delayed by a year.

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In an instant, dreams were put on hold, and some perhaps altogether dashed.

Tokyo 2020 - as it was originally scheduled - represented the last hurrah for many of the world's most beloved athletes.

Tennis star Roger Federer will be 39 and turning 40 shortly after the Games in 2021, while fellow tennis star Serena Williams is also turning 40 in September, 2021.

The Olympics Games in Japan were almost certainly going to be the Olympic swansong for Australian basketball star Andrew Bogut. Whether he has the desire to stick it out another year remains to be seen.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the Tokyo Games, we take a look at the stars who were planning to wave farewell to the Olympic stage in Tokyo, and whether the intervention of COVID-19 might have deprived them of that opportunity.

SIMONE BILES (GYMNASTICS)

This was set to be Biles' final outing at the greatest show on earth, having cleaned up with four gold medals in Rio four years ago.

Though only 23, gymnastics is a sport where time very quickly catches up with its stars and Biles would have been a relative veteran of the field.

A delay of one year does not necessarily rule Biles out, but it will give the American – who topped the podium five times at the 2019 World Championships – plenty to ponder.

ROGER FEDERER (TENNIS)

The Swiss maestro is the most prolific collector of grand slam titles in the history of men's tennis, but one honour has eluded him.

While Federer does possess an Olympic gold, it came when he shared the top step of the podium with doubles partner Stan Wawrinka in Beijing.

Glory in the singles event has proven beyond the 38-year-old, who lost the 2012 London final to home favourite Andy Murray.

Having missed the last Games with a knee injury, Federer will sorely hope that defeat to Murray at Wimbledon's All England Club will not prove to have been an unwitting Olympics farewell.

Roger Federer had to settle for the silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Pic: Getty

ALLYSON FELIX (ATHLETICS)

With six golds and three silvers in a decorated Olympic career, Felix will have been hoping to return for a fifth time.

Having debuted on the biggest stage back in 2004, Felix has gone on to cement her position as a track legend.

Felix turns 35 this year and had spoken of her desire to sign off with a bang, telling NBC Sports of her plans to run both the 100 and 200 metres.

"Everything's on the table this year," she said. "This year, I'm going to be getting back to sprinting. I think that's really key for me to be myself, and that's something that I didn't even get to touch last year."

SERENA WILLIAMS (TENNIS)

The US great will be 40 in September next year although her desire to play in Tokyo might not be as pressing as that of Federer.

Williams already has four Olympic gold medals - singles at London in 2012 and women's doubles with sister Venus in 2000, 2008 in Beijing and London four years later.

The sisters lost their opening round match in Rio in 2016 while Serena's gold medal defence in the singles was ended by Elina Svitolina in the third round.

Still chasing Margaret Court's elusive record for most grand slam singles titles (24), Williams' priorities may lie outside of the Olympics realm.

YOHAN BLAKE (ATHLETICS)

His career having largely overlapped with superstar compatriot Usain Bolt, Blake's quest for gold was always going to prove tough.

Indeed, the two in his collection came after winning the 4x100m in a team including the peerless Bolt.

However, even with the world-record holder now gone from the scene, Blake would have been well down the pecking order in Japan.

Whether he returns in 2021 or not, his double-silver exploits in the 100m and 200m at London 2012 are not to be sniffed at.

ANDREW BOGUT (BASKETBALL)

Having won an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, Bogut is yet to claim a medal with the Australian Boomers basketball team.

The towering centre has represented Australia in three Olympic campaigns but has admitted that this season with the Sydney Kings may have been his last.

Bogut was part of the Boomers' 2019 FIBA World Cup campaign in China, where the Aussies were fancied to claim a medal but fell agonisingly short in fourth place.

The Aussies would rate their chances of delivering the country's first medal in a major international event at the Tokyo Games; hopefully if it does come in 2021 then it's not too late for Bogut.

Tokyo 2020 would likely have been Boomers centre Andrew Bogut's Olympic Games farewell. Pic: Getty

JUSTIN GATLIN (ATHLETICS)

Gatlin had planned to retire in 2020 after competing in his fourth Olympics at the age of 38. However the controversial American star now plans to extend his career in order to compete in the rescheduled Tokyo Games.

"I think a lot of people think that time is against me or against older athletes in this situation, and it's far from the truth," said Gatlin, who has twice served suspensions for drug offences during his career.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion, though could face a battle to even qualify given the depth of the US men's sprinting squad, with Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles the favourites in the 100m and 200m.

with agencies