India’s Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has urged Indian athletes to not lose hope and keep practising amidst the pandemic that has left the country in a state of virtual lockdown.
With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring coronavirus a pandemic last week, nations and sporting federations have taken the necessary step to quarantine themselves and their players.
Most countries have imposed travel restrictions to stop the spread of the virus following which numerous Olympic qualifying events have either been postponed or cancelled.
Asking the athletes to keep their spirits up, Kiren Rijiju mentioned on his Twitter page, “Due to coronavirus, sporting events and competitions are postponed temporarily but I appeal all our athletes not to lose the spirit, keep practicing and focus on your training."
Coronavirus puts a stop to sporting events
What started as a concern for far-eastern countries, to begin with, has now spread across the world with all major and minor sporting events and leagues kept on hold.
Among the vast number of big sporting events that are either cancelled or stalled recently are the Archery World Cup, the BWF India Open, Swiss Open, Malaysia Open, Singapore Open in badminton, Miami Open and BNP Paribas Open in tennis, the FIH Pro League in hockey, the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, the Boxing World Cup in Germany and many more.
While some Indian athletes have managed to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, many were preparing for the qualifiers with the Olympics less than five months away.
Talent Research Committee
The Indian sports minister also has big plans from the Indian contingent heading to the 2020 Olympics. After winning eight medals in the last two Games, Kiren Rijiju believes India should aim for a top-five finish in Tokyo.
The ministry has also decided to set up a Talent Search Committee that will be looking for talents in villages and other places.
"It is our dream to make India a superpower in sports," Kiren Rijiju told the Press Trust of India.