This week, the Japanese Prime Minister announced the Tokyo games would be delayed because of the coronavirus crisis, with Olympics now set to take place no later than summer 2021.
Van der Poel, who had planned to ride the Olympic mountain bike event this summer, told Belgian broadcaster Sporza: “It’s very unfortunate that the games have been postponed, but I understand the decision.
“Global health comes first, it is all about sports. On the other hand, I am left with a bad feeling. Four years ago we drew up a plan towards the Tokyo Games and now that plan has been washed away.”
Alpecin-Fenix rider Van der Poel says he may be forced to choose between his debut Grand Tour and the Olympics next season.
World champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), who crashed out of the 2016 Olympic road race in Rio, told news agency ANP: “Not all athletes will have the same opportunities now.
“It is a good decision. I am happy that we are now free of that uncertainty.”
Tom Dumoulin, silver medallist in the 2016 time trial, added: “It’s understandable that the Olympics are being postponed and it’s good that a decision has already been made at this stage. This provides clarity. It’s too bad for me and many other athletes, but I suppose and I hope that we can look forward to the Olympics in the next year. At this moment, there are more important things in the world than sports.”
Dumoulin’s Jumbo-Visma team-mate, Wout van Aert, said: “For me personally, it increases my chances of being selected, because it gives me more opportunities to show myself.
“Now that this wise decision has been made, the different sports also get the chance to amend their calendars. In cycling, that provides the space to reschedule races or to possibly reschedule the Tour.
“So I’m not too disappointed. Hopefully there will be other goals for this year.”