Rugby star Kenki Fukuoka isn’t dwelling on things he has no control over.
So instead of being upset by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics in March, Fukuoka just accepted it and has moved on.
His original plan was to compete on the international stage for the final time at the 2020 Games before pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. The postponement of the games to next summer, a turn of events brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced him to abandon that plan and give up on his bid to make the Olympic team in favor of working to become a doctor.
Speaking during an online news conference on Sunday, the 27-year-old expressed disappointment that the games have been delayed but had no regrets about his decision.
“There had been speculation about the possibility of the postponement, and when the announcement was made, I just accepted it,” said Fukuoka, who has been removed from the Olympic practice squad. “We had success at last year’s World Cup, and now (the Olympics) have been postponed. I think it was just fate that it had to be that way. So I didn’t feel too much discouragement.”
Fukuoka, who helped Japan’s rugby sevens team finish fourth at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, didn’t struggle with his decision because he believed it was the right choice.
“I have a strong belief that I want to live my life without regret,” said Fukuoka, whose father is a dentist and whose grandfather specializes in internal medicine. “I did not want to postpone the timing of my retirement (from international rugby) that I’d decided on. Plus I can allot more time for my studies. So I feel like I made the right decision.”
The swift-footed winger also made it clear that the 2019 World Cup, in which the Brave Blossoms successfully advanced to the quarterfinals, was the last time he would play for the 15-man national team.
While he is retiring from Japan, the Panasonic Wild Knights player plans to compete in the Top League next season.
“We understand what a difficult decision that would have been and we support him with that,” Wild Knights coach Robbie Deans said of Fukuoka’s choice to not play at the Olympics in a statement. “He is not only a remarkable player but a remarkable person who will continue to make a positive difference to others.”
Fukuoka is undecided about what kind of doctor he plans to become because his path could change after he enrolls in medical school and works as an intern. But he’s certain about wanting to capitalize on his career as a rugby player.
“I probably want to work in an area where I can take advantage of my experience as a top athlete,” the Fukuoka Prefecture native said. “And because I’ve been an athlete and know how one feels when he or she gets injured, I want to be someone who can connect with that person.”
Fukuoka is not the only player who has given up on his bid for the Tokyo Olympics. Yusaku Kuwazuru, who served as captain for Japan at the Rio Games, Kosuke Hashino and a few other players have also withdrawn from the Olympic practice squad.
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