Swimmer Mark Spitz says he believes the coronavirus pandemic will change the way sport and society more widely operate ©Getty Images

Swimmer Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, says he believes coronavirus will change the way sport and wider society operates.

Spitz, who is currently quarantined at his home in Los Angeles, said he believed coronavirus would impact the world for longer than anticipated.

"Originally, when we were told about this virus and that we needed to stay inside, it was for a two week period of time, but I realised that wasn’t realistic because there was no cure for this particular pandemic," Spitz said as reported by Laureus.

"Fortunately for me, I have no family or friends that have been affected.

"I take my hat off to the doctors and nurses that are out there on the front lines risking their lives. 

"I think in the beginning they didn’t realise how dangerous it was going to be out there to help others, but they’re relentless with their energies and their efforts, helping all of us when we’re in need.

"Coronavirus has impacted us worldwide and I think it will be here for much longer than we anticipate and I think that we’re doing a great job of adapting to this type of environment."

Spitz, who set world records in each of his victories at Munich 1972, said he agreed with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games by 12 months due to the pandemic.

Mark Spitz said he was hopeful of a return to
Mark Spitz said he was hopeful of a return to "normal" soon, but warned there was no guarantee of finding a vaccine for the virus ©Getty Images

"At least it affects most people in the same way and it affects all kinds of sports in a similar fashion," Spitz said.

"However, if you are towards the end of your athletic career, because of your age, whether or not you can still stay in shape and still train for another year, can become extremely difficult emotionally.

"It will be interesting to watch the athletes that didn’t get a chance to participate in 2020 or 2021. 

"Certainly in my sport, swimming, we'll be looking at names like Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky and all of those other athletes that are currently world ranked."

The American added that he was concerned about how the world may look in 2021 as a result of the pandemic.

"I don’t think we really have all the answers to this coronavirus that’s with us right now, as to how this is going to impact the world economically," said Spitz.

"One of the big questions you have to ask yourselves is what happens a year from now, when we’re about a month away from the Olympic Games starting in Tokyo in 2021 and we find that Japan is not prepared economically to be able to host the Games?"

"There’s no guarantee that we’re going to find a vaccine for this virus. 

"You know it’s been almost 40 years and they still don’t have a vaccine for HIV, but we’re still here and we still made it. 

"So I’m hoping, very soon, that we’ll be all back to normal, whatever that normal may be."