Dame Katherine Grainger: A letter to athletes

Published 27 March 2020

Dame Katherine Grainger

Dear Athletes,

I hope that this message finds you and your families safe and well in what are truly unprecedented times.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Wuhan on the very last day of 2019 I’m sure no one could have predicted the scenes we now see across the globe.

As Chair of UK Sport I wanted to write to you to offer our heartfelt support in the days, weeks and months ahead, particularly following the postponement and cancellation of the sporting calendar the world over.

I can only imagine what you are going through at the moment. As athletes you are now experiencing something that no previous Olympic and Paralympic athletes have in the past, and my thoughts are with you. Having focused heart, body and mind on performances this summer, the postponement of the Games will bring such conflicting emotions. From the relief at finally have some degree of certainty, to frustration, anger, disappointment, confusion, grief and perhaps, for some, optimism that more time might mean more opportunity. There is no right or wrong way to feel about this situation. Allow yourself whatever time you need to come to terms with where you are now. Most importantly, of course, stay safe.

You are not alone. Many people, not least your coaches and support staff who have been meticulously supporting your preparations for this summer, will be going through the same disappointment and uncertainty.

For winter athletes the cancellation of the remaining 19/20 competition season is also destabilising. Whilst the 2020 Summer Games postponement is at the forefront of the public’s thoughts at this time, we are acutely aware of, and working to support, all those mid-cycle winter athletes and their teams.

With all of the world experiencing this pandemic, it is important that you protect yourselves and those you love. Although the situation has now forced a break from your normal training routine, use the time as best you can. A rest can be as useful as anything, and the ability to stay adaptable and flexible in your thinking and preparation going forward will be crucial. When we have a clearer timescale for the Summer Games, then will be the time to plan. In these uncertain times and without the ability to focus as normal on the routine of your training schedules and competition calendars, please keep in the forefront of your minds that British athletes are at no greater disadvantage than any other competing nation. This is a truly global emergency. First and foremost keep safe.

Despite the difficult environment, I’ve been hugely impressed by so many Olympic and Paralympic athletes playing a welcome role, supporting local communities and inspiring audiences to help the nation to stay active (while of course observing the social distancing measures!). Thank you for being part of the incredible work happening throughout the country to keep society strong.

When the time is right, I know we will rise once more as a sporting community and you will again inspire, engage and unite the whole nation behind your successes.

Take care,

Dame Katherine Grainger


UK Sport

If you would like further details regarding additional support for athletes, then please get in touch with us via info@uksport.gov.uk 


Funding Partners
  • DCMS
  • TNL partners
Official Partners
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  • BUPA
  • IHG logo
Strategic Partners
  • British Olympic Association
  • Paralympics GB
  • Sport England
  • Sport Northern Ireland
  • Sport Wales
  • Sport Scotland