Ban of spectators at Tokyo Olympics impacts GR athlete

Japan 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Olympic organizers will only allow fans from Japan to attend to this summer’s games in Tokyo because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It’s a disheartening announcement for Grand Rapids resident Alex Rose. 

“I was devastated when I found out my family couldn’t come,” said Rose, who will represent Samoa in the discus throw in Tokyo. 

“It’s one of those things that I’ve thought about for so many years now, competing in Tokyo and walking in the stadium and looking up and seeing my mom, my wife,” Rose said.

Six of Rose’s family members made plans to cheer him on in Tokyo. 

“They had everything lined up, airfare, hotels, tickets packages to the venue, which are very specific and complicated to get to begin with,” Rose said. 

He was looking forward to having his family root for him because they weren’t able to go the first time he qualified for the games in 2016. 

“For Rio, I qualified about a month and a half before the games, it was all last minute,” Rose said. “No one knew for sure I was going to go until it was too late to book things.”

In spite of the circumstances, Rose is determined to have a memorable experience. 

“I’m still going there with the same purpose, to win a medal,” Rose said. 

Not having family see him compete in person is fueling his desire to qualify for a third time. 

“The goal of throwing in the Olympic Games with my family there is still enormous,” Rose said. “This does kind of ignite the fire to qualify for Paris (in 2024).”

Rose will take off for Japan in early July and meet up with his Samoan teammates for a training camp. He is scheduled to compete July 30-31.  

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