TOKYO -- Japanese swimming star Rikako Ikee, who returned to the pool in March for the first time since she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019, may return to competition as early as Aug. 27.
A source close to the matter confirmed that she is considering participating in a swimming meet between Nihon University and Chuo University to be held at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center. If so, it will be the first time for Ikee to compete in about a year and seven months, since she participated in the Mitsubishi Yowa Sprint competition in January 2019.
Ikee, a second-year student at Nihon University, invited the press to a July 2 training session. There, she said her current goal is to compete in the Japan intercollegiate championships in October. However, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, there will likely be a limit on the number of participants. The Japan Swimming Federation has already decided at an Aug. 4 board meeting that it will only allow the top 32 or 40 fastest athletes, depending on the event, to participate in individual events. Eligibility will be determined by comparing 50-meter lap times recorded from April 2019 on.
Ikee announced she had been diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019, and returned to the pool in March this year after a long battle with the disease. Since she does not have any times recorded since entering university, she must beat the qualifying mark by the Sept. 11 registration deadline to compete in individual events.
The swimming club at Nihon University has suspended activities after one male student with the club tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Aug. 1. Ikee did not have close contact with the club member, but is being asked to stay at home.
(Japanese original by Hitoshi Kurasawa, Sports News Department)