The skipper, who will compete in sailing at the Tokyo Olympics, tells PEOPLE her parents were planning to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary while cheering her on in Japan

By Adam Carlson and Lindsay Kimble
April 07, 2021 02:42 PM
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Stephanie Roble
Stephanie Roble
| Credit: Stephanie Roble/Instagram

Stephanie Roble won't see any familiar faces in the crowd cheering her on at Tokyo Olympics, but she and her family have made peace with that.

Roble, a skipper who competes in the women's 49erFX sailing event, tells PEOPLE during the Tokyo Olympics media summit on Wednesday that the decision by Japan to ban international fans at the Games has been a "hot topic" in her family.

"My parents were looking forward to coming over and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary during the Olympics, so obviously they're very bummed," Roble says.

She continues, "But, you know, we're just accepting that that's where the world is right now. And I think sailing is unique in the sense of — you aren't really a spectator sport. It's quite hard to see us out racing. So I guess in one sense, it doesn't really affect us. But it would mean a lot to me to have my family and friends there."

The 31-year-old, who hails from Wisconsin, has one sailing world championship victory and five national championship victories to her name.

Overseas spectators will not be allowed at the upcoming Games amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced last month. The Games have already been postponed from last summer to this July and August due to the global health crisis.

Citing the challenges of new COVID-19 variants and restrictions on international travel, officials said in a press release that not allowing overseas spectators "will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public." They added that ticket holders from abroad will be refunded. 

Roble tells PEOPLE that she thinks her family will instead host a safe watch party at home.

"I think it will be really fun to just feel the support from far away and embrace as much of it as I can," she says.

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer on NBC.