Delly Carr – Athletes Are Not OK

Posted on July 27, 2020 by

Award-winning sports photographer, Delly Carr, was due to be shooting his 10th Olympic Games this weekend. Carr has been photographing Australia’s top athletes for over 30 years with his main focus being on Olympic and Paralympic water sports.

With the onset of COVID-19 and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Carr looked to the athletes he has shot on so many occasions, in triumph and defeat, and wanted to illustrate in a portrait series the moment they realised their Tokyo dream was postponed.


Carr called on athletes from swimming, triathlon, canoe, kayak, water polo, sailing and rowing. The newly released sportfolio is made up of 17 athletes – male and female, including severla athletes from the NSW Institute of Sport.

The series, shot in a COVID-safe environment, has shown Carr the true emotions that Australia’s athletes have gone through with the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“I took the photographs after talking to a few athlete friends when Tokyo was postponed. I quickly realised that Athletes Are Not OK. They kept telling me how their family, friends and the general public didn’t quite get what the postponement of Tokyo meant to them.

“There was heartbreak and heavy sadness. The decision really hurt them in so many different ways.

“Whilst they realise they are not above and beyond everyone else in society, their world of sport lies smashed in tiny pieces right now.


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Thank you @jobrigdenjones for sharing your story, your emotions & thank you 📸 @dellyphotoninja for your passion for our athletes and sport and capturing these raw moments… 🙏💚💛 Take care every one #strongertogether #tokyotogether #Repost @jobrigdenjones ・・💔 when the @tokyo2020 Olympics were postponed. Today we were meant to be proudly walking around the 🇯🇵 stadium at the Opening Ceremony in our @ausolympicteam blazers. Athletes around the world put everything on the line to be ready for the next 2 weeks of Olympic competition. But instead our dreams came to a sudden holt and we have had to figure out a way to refocus and adjust to the unknown. We now start a new count down for the next 12 months. Everyone has experienced different emotions through this period as we are all at different stages of our sporting careers and life. It’s ok to be upset, angry and frustrated about what 2020 has thrown us. It has sucked. But it has also provided some different opportunities and a second chance to prepare for the Olympic Games. @dellyphotoninja shot this amazing photo portrait series of athletes emotions when they found out the Games weren’t happing this year. Thanks Delly for capturing this raw insight into how the #covid19 pandemic has affected so many and how athletes really feel. 💚💛 #tokyo2020 #tokyo2021 #olympics #openingceremony #TokyoTogether #StrongerTogether

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“They believed in my project and its message, and they wanted the world to know. Georgie (Rowe) was the main force in getting me to do the project. I then asked the athletes from sports I work in, and they all said yes immediately. Had I asked athletes of each Olympic sport, I reckon I would have got a 99% participation rate.”

Carr admitted the reactions were varied throughout the individual shoots.

“Their reactions during the shoot was tears, anger, disappointment, disillusionment. They were super honest with me. They trusted me. They are my friends.”

The images, shot behind a frosted glass, helped to represent many things for Carr.

“It’s ironic that the frosty glass that helped me achieve the effect (representing the surreal feel and uncertainty and depression of the COVID-19 time for all of us, the drops of water representing ‘tears’) is now in all stores between customer and shop attendant, the ‘germ shield’. So I photographed each athlete behind the glass. ‘Photographer and Athlete unable to exchange germs’.”

Georgie Rowe, who is aiming for her first Olympic Games and was one of the athletes featured in Carr’s project, had mixed reactions to the postponement.

“My initial reaction was relief, relief that a decision had been made as I had felt as though we were training for something so uncertain whilst the world appeared to be crumbling around us.

“Mentally I was in pretty good shape. I quickly went home, set up a new routine with working as a nurse and training indoors. I set small achievable goals and I also reached out to my nearest and dearest (one being Delly) and made sure my support network was in close contact.

“As the weeks went on, it certainly was a challenge.

“There were days I’d call some of my rowing buddies questioning what we were doing and why we were doing it. It felt like we were going through the motions with no goal in sight but the more time I spent at home the more I realised how much I love what I do and how grateful I am to be an athlete in such an unusual time in the world.”

Rowe admits though, while the date has changed, the target has not.

“The ultimate goal hasn’t changed, it’s just shifted 12 months and because of this my preparation also has to be re-assessed. We have incredible access to some of the best in the business, strength and conditioning coaches, rowing coaches, exercise physiologist and everything in-between. Every aspect of our being could have been affected but with such great support around us both in and out of the arena we prepare as though we are going to the Olympics next year to win.

“In gearing myself up for 2021, the truth is I don’t know how I’ll do it. I’ve never been in a situation like this before and I think it’s fair to say either has the rest of the world.

“For myself, I know I need to stay present and make the most out of each day and each training sessions. When the Olympics roll around next year I want to have total faith in everything I’ve done, be in the best physical and mental shape and leave no stone unturned.”


1 Comment


Super photos and honesty from the athletes , well done guys

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