ELITE athletes have a tendency to live in a bubble. Nothing matters beyond the next training session, the next qualifying event, the next competition. And in an Olympic year, that focus becomes even more intense. What is going on in the outside world rarely interferes with their thinking.

Once in a while, however, something happens of such magnitude that it becomes impossible even for the most dedicated and determined athlete to ignore. The growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted sport all around the world and has now, belatedly, led to the postponement of this year’s Olympics. Tokyo 2020 will become Tokyo 2021.

For Sally Conway, any disappointment at being deprived of the potential chance to add a second medal to the bronze she claimed four years ago in Rio is dwarfed by her concerns for humanity as a whole.

The 33-year-old is on the mend following a knee operation last month and had been gearing up for a qualifying battle with Gemma Howell for the one available spot in the British judo team.

Now all that can wait. Conway is a chipper sort at the best of times and her positive attitude will no doubt serve her and her followers well over the coming months as she regularly updates her social media pages with posts and video challenges that show how she is adapting to life behind closed doors.

Keeping everyone fit and healthy is of far greater concern to her now than any frustration at seeing her Olympic dream delayed for a year.

“It was a bit of a weird feeling when it started to become likely that the Games would be postponed – I’m not sure it’s fully sunk in even now,” she said. “But now that it’s been announced that they’re holding it over until next year it’s definitely the best thing. It’s the right decision.

“There’s a lot more important things for us to be worried about in the world that matter more than the Olympic Games and sport. That has to be the priority as we want to keep people healthy and save lives where possible. So I’m 100 per cent on board with that.

“But it still hurts and it’s really gutting that the Olympics won’t be happening. Everything you’ve done over the past three-and-a-half years has all been undertaken with an end goal in mind and that was competing at the Olympic Games in July 2020.

“Never in a million years could you ever have thought it wouldn’t take place. It felt like something that was set in stone and that, no matter what else was going on, there would be an Olympic Games this summer. But then something comes along that’s even bigger than all of that. And you totally understand why all of a sudden even a major sports event like the Olympics doesn’t really matter any more.”

Conway still intends to be in contention to compete at Tokyo 2021 but admits so much could change in judo between now and then.

“In my weight category, for example, the girls who are medalling now might not be the ones at the top in a year,” she said. “And then you have the younger ones who could be more ready next summer and push to the top of the rankings. It’s going to be an interesting 12 months or so.”

Even with no Olympics to aim for this year, Conway, who also won world bronze in Tokyo last year, is still trying to maintain a semblance of order in her daily life in Edinburgh. Lounging around all day watching box sets isn’t for her.

“I’m trying to keep myself occupied the best I can,” she said. “Athletes are so used to a structure when you’re working towards an event and I can’t just chuck all that away now the Olympics have been postponed. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

“So I’m trying to keep myself in a routine, getting up at good times and trying to eat well – although it’s always tempting to dig into the chocolate when you’re stuck at home!

“I’m still training too as much as I can. I’ve managed to get some things set up on the bit of green outside the house so it lets me get a bit of fresh air at the same time as exercising.

“If the weather holds I’m going to do most of my work outside but keep my rower inside to keep it in good nick as you never know when it might rain in this country.

“I feel like if I can manage all of those things then I’ve had a productive day and I feel better as a result. I’m not setting targets or anything too specific.

“I just want to do the things that make me happy and in a positive frame of mind. I think everyone has to take that approach to life at the moment and look to make the best of things where they can.”