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Roundtable: Our reactions to the delay of the 2020 Olympics for the Wizards, Mystics and sports in general

We gave our thoughts on what the delay of the 2020 Olympics will mean for the Washington Wizards and Mystics. We even give thoughts on what the COVID-19 pandemic can mean for sports overall.

The Tokyo Olympics are postponed for a year.
Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Last week, the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2020 Summer Olympics Games will be postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff gave our opinions regarding the event and how it affects the teams at home.

We started this roundtable right after the news happened, but later, the WNBA also announced that the 2020 Draft will be held virtually instead of in-person.

Albert Lee: The Olympics are postponed! I think everyone believes it’s the right decision. But how do you think this affects the Wizards with Rui Hachimura as well and the Mystics with Emma Meesseman, Elena Delle Donne and possibly Ariel Atkins?

I don’t think it means much for the Wizards besides maybe an uninterrupted summer schedule (if the season goes on). For the Mystics, I honestly think that could be the “final nail in the coffin” for Meesseman to retire from the WNBA if the 2020 season is cancelled.

Alan Jenkins: Postponing the Olympics to 2021 was a no-brainer, the committee had to do it. No one knows what things will be like during that time so brining in athletes from all over the world to convene in the same place doesn’t sound like the best idea. Not to mention, most if not all events probably wouldn’t have had spectators.

As far as how it affects Wizards’ and Mystics’ players, not so much. I know Rui Hachiumra was probably itching to get out there and represent Japan in front of his fellow countrymen.

But now, things will just have to be postponed for a year.

Marcus Atkinson: For Rui, I think this hurts a little bit, but all is not lost. I have seen players like Carmelo Anthony for example, who have used their Olympic experience and it translated during the season.

My hope is that experience for Rui would do the same, especially since he would be more of a primary scoring option than he is with the Wizards. I think having a role of being one of the go-to scorers on this team would do wonders for his confidence.

Going forward, building confidence in that area and becoming a more aggressive scorer is going to be key to determining what his ceiling is. Rui will get his chance hopefully next year, but without a doubt the Olympics being postponed impacts him more than anyone else on the Wizards, even if Bradley Beal somehow makes Team USA.

For the WNBA, given the strong possibility of at best being a delay in the season, it’s probably in the league’s and the Mystics’ best interest that the Olympics didn’t happen this summer. I think the Mystics need this season to go on to continue their momentum from their championship run.

Losing Kristi Toliver to the Los Angeles Sparks is already going to hurt, but having multiple players focus on Olympics like Emma Meesseman doesn’t help either. That’s a lot of basketball to play considering that many players were playing in their European seasons before those seasons also got suspended. Having a normal season (as much as it can be normal at this point), and not having players playing in the Olympics this season should help the Mystics more than hurt them in my opinion.

Albert: Good point, Marcus, especially on a possible, if not likely WNBA season delay, since there’s a chance that the Olympic Break could be eliminated now that the Olympics are postponed.

But Greydy posted earlier Thursday that the WNBA Draft (another topic for another day) will be held via teleconference due to the coronavirus.

And to Alan’s point, I do think Rui was really, REALLY wanting to represent Japan in the Olympics this year. I too think that it could dampen a springboard to next season, since he was poised to be their go-to player. He is sort of in the same position Meesseman was in during her early years with the Mystics, and later on, the Belgian women’s national team. Does anyone see Hachimura making a leap (though not necessarily as big as Meesseman’s) as well with the Japanese men’s national team?

Diamond Holton: I was definitely looking forward to the Summer Olympics. It’s one of the highlights of sports for me. But now that it’s postponed until 2021 and looking at whether or not I feel it affects the Wizards and/or Mystics as a team is the question.

I don’t believe the Wizards will be affected that much because the American players, even Beal, are long shots to make the national team. Still, it would’ve been nice to watch Hachimura ball out for Japan and come back the following season new and polished so to speak.

As for the Mystics, the only one dealing who’s probably taking the Olympic postponement hard would be Emma Meesseman because this is Belgium’s first time there.

Despite the postponement of the Olympics, I don’t think that she will retire from the WNBA.

Yes, Elena Delle Donne will represent the USA in all likelihood. But Team USA expects to be in the Olympics every time. Belgium, not so much.

Anyway, let’s look at the plus side. They’ll have Emma for the ENTIRE season (if we have one). I always felt the Mystics’ chemistry and development was deeply hurt at times when she missed regular season games due to being overseas for The Belgian Cats.

The WNBA will take a heavy hit as a whole due to the Olympics not happening this year because the schedule was made around it. Now, the WNBA will have to wonder how to make the most out of a midseason one month break.

Could the WNBA alter the schedule back to its regular format? It’s possible but with the reservation of arenas and venues that would be complicated. Plus there’s the new Commissioner’s Championship tournament. That could be switched around and played during that gap. Either way, the Olympic postponement this year would affect the Mystics/WNBA more so than the Wizards in general.

Kevin Broom: I don’t see much impact on the Wizards, and I’ll defer Mystics comments to those who follow the team more closely.

I’m pretty skeptical an opportunity to be “The Man” on the Japan men’s national team would do much for Hachimura’s development. “The Men” for the Wizards will be John Wall and Bradley Beal the next two to three seasons. Hachimura will need to figure out how to make the most of the opportunities he gets.

The bigger impact of COVID-19 may be a rethinking of mass gatherings in general and pro sports in particular. The virus itself will be around and we’ll need an effective vaccine and widespread adoption for life to return to “normal.”

And, as COVID-19 shows, modern life is vulnerable to this kind of thing the next time a virus mutates into something more dangerous. I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that the Olympics as a huge spectator event is over. It’s possible that pro sports leagues are going to have to figure out how to generate interest and excitement without a live audience.

I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, but I think there are aspects of how we lived — things we took for granted — that could be transformed in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Alan: I’m with Kevin regarding Hachiumra’s growth by playing with Team Japan. Playing with the Japanese national team will be a great opportunity for him to represent his country and grow individually.

From purely a basketball standpoint, Hachimura will be by far the best player on the Japanese team. But when he’s playing in an NBA game, Hachimura’s not the best player on the floor.

Therefore, the Olympic Games are a great personal opportunity for Rui as a floor leader. But I don’t think this will help elevate his game from a basketball standpoint.