ESPN Images/Phil Ellsworth(NEW YORK) — Olympic legend Michael Phelps was critical of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to add new swimming events to the Games while speaking at a promotional event in New York City.
The IOC recently announced that it will add a women’s 1500 meter freestyle, a men’s 800 meter freestyle, and a mixed-gender 4×100 relay to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, much to the annoyance of the 28-time Olympic medalist. Phelps says the expansion make it seem like “there’s too much going on,” adding, “it takes away from the sport… it’s not swimming anymore.”
He compared the additions to the high-tech, polyurethane-based swimsuits that swimming introduced to the world at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. They were banned after those Olympic Games once officials determined the suits were too much of a performance enhancer. Phelps believes that officials are essentially picking and choosing which races they want in the Games.
However, the racing legend does not completely oppose the idea of adding new events. It gives athletes another opportunity to win a gold medal and one day break his record of 23 career golds. Katie Ledecky, the women’s swimming star who earned four gold medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, will now have a chance to compete for one more thanks to the new 1500 meter race.
Phelps seems to welcome that opportunity, telling reporters he “doesn’t care” if a swimmers break his Olympic records. In fact, he says he would, “Love to see it, adding, “I think it’s good to have somebody out there that is willing to challenge themselves in way that they had no idea.”
The legendary swimmer also discussed what he has been up to in retirement, and some of it does not involve swimming. In fact, he has picked up a new sport: golf.
Phelps also spends time with his wife, former Miss California Nicole Johnson, and one-year-old son, Boomer.
As for work, he is spending a lot of time working with his foundation, promoting swim safety to get kids active and prevent drowning accidents. He also testified before Congress earlier this year, speaking out against doping in Olympic swimming.
Phelps joked with reporters that every so often he will post a picture on Instagram with the caption “#2020?” teasing fans about a potential comeback. However, he assures the public that his Olympic career is definitely over.
He did not say, however, that his racing career is over. In fact, he is actually preparing for another highly-anticipated race coming up later this summer. Phelps will race against a great white shark as a part of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” a dream for Phelps as he calls sharks his “number one favorite animal in the world.”
And that is a new freestyle event he is pretty excited about.
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