Rohan Bopanna and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran satisfied with Olympic switch

Indian hopefuls for Tokyo 2020 alongside former Olympians react to the new dates for the Games next year.

By Olympic Channel Writer ·

While Indian athletes welcomed the decision to hold the Tokyo Olympics next year in July, most were already thinking ahead in terms of planning and preparing for the Games in the months to follow.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local Organising Committee’s confirmation on Monday that the Tokyo Games was to be postponed by a year was warmly welcomed by athletes and coaches alike.

Now slated to take place from July 23 to August 8 next year, athletes have a lot of time to prepare for sports’ showpiece event.

New dates can facilitate better planning

But former Olympian and Tokyo hopeful Rohan Bopanna, while hailing the decision, also hoped that a call would be taken on the tournaments leading up to the Games.

"Postponing it by a year is the right thing to do as health is the top priority. But, right now I can't say it will be an advantage or a disadvantage,” the Indian tennis player told the Olympic Channel

“We are yet to know the dates when the tournaments will start and which ranking Olympics will take into consideration, this year's or next year's," he pointed out.

Nevertheless, the time from now to next July provides hopefuls opportunities to adapt their schedules, especially once there is more clarity on the tournaments that were postponed.

“I don’t think they had any other option than to postpone the Games, the health of the athletes and everyone else is important,”  India’s top table tennis talents Sathiyan Gnanasekaran empathised. “It’s sad that it had to be pushed back in this manner, but it is a good decision because the athletes need not be anxious about an uncertain date.

“Shifting it by exactly a year also ensures a smooth transition, we only need to push our plans by that period, and we would have to rework things sure. Once we know about the new qualification scenarios, it will help us plan better and this also opens up the month of July for the ITTF to possibly hold some of the postponed tournaments,” he explained over the phone.

Rohan Bopanna hailed the IOC's decision to push the Olympic Games back by a year

Staying healthy and safe top priority

Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar stressed that the health and safety of people take centrestage as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, pointing out that priorities were addressed well.

“There's plenty of time (for the Games),” he said. “For now, we have to stay safe from the coronavirus… We can start preparing for the Olympics after we do that,” Sushil Kumar explained.

Boxer Saweety Boora echoed Sushil Kumar’s views.

“The situation is currently due to the coronavirus and I am appreciative of the decision that has been taken,” she expressed her gratitude. “This will give the athlete more opportunity to train. 

“It's a good thing. If athletes had to perform under these conditions, they could have been infected, so this decision is very good,” she stressed.

Boxer Manish Kaushik, safe in the knowledge that he had punched his ticket to Tokyo at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers earlier this month, will simply take the time to continue to gear up for the Games.

“Now we have got a chance for a year,” he said. “With this, we will do our preparation better. The events that are left will be to see who qualifies for it. I'm all set.”

Fellow boxer Naman Tanwar is one such athlete who will be looking forward to the next opportunity. Having fallen short in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers, he would have set his sights on the qualifiers in Paris, which was originally slated for April.

“The arrival of the new Olympic dates gives the athlete more opportunity now. With this, they will now be able to concentrate more on their training. I appreciate it,” the heavyweight boxer insisted.

Initially scheduled to take place from July this year, the IOC’s postponement of the Olympics for the first time in its 124-year history came after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill.