With the 2020 Olympics postponed until 2021, there are fears the delay will shatter the gold medal hopes of many aging athletes.
AFP Sport looks at six evergreen stars for whom a delayed Tokyo Games might be a step too far.
1. Roger Federer
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who will be 40 in August 2021, won Olympic gold when he partnered Stan Wawrinka to the men’s doubles title at the 2008 Beijing Games. Federer was a quarterfinalist in singles in China and a silver medalist in 2012 in London before an injury forced him to skip the 2016 Games in Rio.
In Sydney, in 2000, Federer made the semifinals in singles but he still remembers Australia fondly as it was the place where he first started his romance with Mirka Vavrinec, who is now his wife.
2. Serena Williams
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 defense in the singles was ended by Elina Svitolina in the third round.
3. Tiger Woods
Woods, who will be 46 in December next year, would have struggled to make the US team for the games if they had remained in their 2020 slot. He is currently only the sixth-ranked American with just the top four guaranteed to make the squad.
Woods, the winner of 15 majors, has been fighting a recurrence of a back injury, so at least the delay to 2021 for the Olympics gives him renewed hope of a golden swan song.
4 Lin Dan
The colorful and controversial Chinese badminton superstar will be 37 by the time the next games roll around.
Lin already has gold from Beijing in 2008 and London four years later, adding to his five world titles.
However, there is a hint of unfinished business for Lin, who was defeated in the bronze medal match in Rio in 2016, having been downed in the semifinals by great rival Lee Chong Wei, the man he had beaten in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals.
5. Allyson Felix
The only female track and field athlete in history to win six Olympic gold medals, Felix had spent the last two years preparing for a golden farewell at the Tokyo Olympics.
Felix, who turns 35 at the end of this year, will be racing against Father Time as she attempts to improve her medal tally in what will be her fifth consecutive Olympics appearance.
6. Justin Gatlin
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.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion, could face a battle to even qualify given the depth of the US men’s sprinting squad, with Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles the favorites in the 100- and 200-meter competitions. (AFP)