Famed Russian artistic gymnast Svetlana Khorkina has suggested having an online format for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to avoid a potential spectators ban during the games caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three-time world all-around champion, who has taken part in three Olympics, outlined that athletes who have been training hard to participate in the Summer Games should not become victims of the global coronavirus crisis.

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“Global competitions, like the Summer Olympics cannot be held without spectators. It’s not only about supporting athletes during the Games, it’s an essential financial and economic part of the event. The situation surrounding the Games is really very complicated, the two-time Olympic gold medalist said.

“Of course I can understand fears and doubts of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, we face the same problems at a national scale in Russia. But I think it would be logical to have an online format of the Games or to cancel them altogether.

“Missing the Games would be a tragedy for a great number of athletes who have been getting ready to perform there. For some of them, it could be the last Olympics of their career. It’s a complicated issue, she added.

Khorkina dominated the international gymnastics circuit at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, winning all major international events, including the Olympic Games and world championships.

Dubbed the “queen of the uneven bars,” Khorkina was unbeaten on her favorite apparatus for a six-year period during which she claimed two Olympic golds and five world titles, as she cemented her undoubted leadership on the bars.

She was the only female gymnast in history to clinch three all-around titles and held this record for 15 years before US star Simone Biles broke it (with five world all-around titles) to become the most decorated gymnast of the modern era.