Dane Lett in action for the Black Sticks against Australia during an Oceania Cup match in Perth last September. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Dalefield’s Black Stick, Dane Lett, is philosophical about the postponement of this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Lett, 29, is a regular member of the New Zealand men’s hockey team, who qualified for the Olympics in a three-test series against South Korea late last year, and had been in intensive training in the build-up.

Lett, who has played 77 tests, including winning a silver medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, said the team were told at a training camp there was a chance the Olympics were not going ahead.

“I’ve been expecting it to be postponed or cancelled,” Lett said on Wednesday.

“It’s a positive that it’s been postponed and not cancelled, there’s been a lot of commitment put in and hopefully it will go ahead,” he said.

“There’s too much going on in the world at the moment and people’s health and safety is the most important thing.

“It’s obviously disappointing. We’ve been doing a lot of training and work in our preparation for July and it throws a lot of people out,” Lett said.

“But sport is not significant. People’s lives are affected around the world, so it’s not a big deal.”

The IOC on Wednesday made the decision to postpone until no later than 2021 after mounting pressure from various sports and some countries threatening to boycott the games.

“Japan was so well organised and had put a lot of resources into the games and the IOC were pretty optimistic it would go ahead. Hopefully, it will happen some time,” Lett said.

Should the Olympics take place next year, Lett said the Black Sticks would be in Tokyo as of right.

“The qualification should be as is; I don’t think it would be redone.”

The covid-19 pandemic also had the World Hockey League put on hold until mid-May and Lett said they’re still waiting to hear from the International Hockey Federation on the future of the competition.

Likewise the Wellington Hockey competitions, in which his champion Dalefield men’s team and the club’s women’s team play in, have been deferred until May 2, although Lett expected that to be extended.

In the meantime Lett said he’s taking it day by day.

“I’m doing a lot of running and strength work. I’ve pretty much got a full gym at home.

“I live in Karori and there are a lot of trail runs around here, so it’s pretty easy to keep my fitness up,” he said.

“I can also work in my coaching job with Wellington Hockey from a distance.”

The Olympic postponement has also affected Lett’s family.

His parents, Bernie and Karen, partner Kelsi Rutene and son Rio, were scheduled to travel to Tokyo for the men’s hockey.

Bernie Lett said he was unsure what would happen.

“We don’t know yet. We were sent an email a week ago by New Zealand Olympic Travel, who organised the tour, but haven’t heard any more,” he said.

“We’re in uncharted territories and we don’t know what we’ll get back and what the insurance will pay out.”

Bernie Lett said they’d paid out tens of thousands of dollars just to see the hockey.

“We couldn’t get tickets to anything else.

“We had tickets to the men’s games and preferential booking for the semifinal and final, if they got that far, and we also had tickets to three women’s games. But the demand was so high.”