Welcoming the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics on the back of the coronavirus pandemic, former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha said that the official announcement should put aspiring Olympians at ease.
Stating that the ‘uncertainty was killing the athlete’ which was leading a ‘massive loss of focus’ among the elite bunch in India, Viren Rasquinha said that the athletes could now relax a bit, take care of their health and safety, overcome this current phase of the pandemic and then look at plans ahead.
“There were too many noises that were telling very conflicting things. I think the postponement of the Olympics was inevitable given the gravity of the situation. And because of the gravity of the whole pandemic, I think it's also the right decision,” the 39-year-old said in an exclusive chat with the Olympic Channel.
“When athletes have a goal in front of them, and sort of a deadline - July 24 in this case - then they train with a lot of focus. What was happening in the last two week especially, given that there were so many rumours, I was seeing a massive lack of focus among the athletes. Especially in physical sports, training had come down to just 30-40 per cent of the normal.”
Viren Rasquinha has been contributing to the Olympic cause in India as the CEO of the Olympic Gold Quest, a not-for-profit organisation that supports Olympic aspirants.
It’s the right decision, says Viren Rasquinha
Though the former Indian skipper agreed that postponement of the Games was the right decision given the times that the world is going through, he stated that the decision was sure to cause adjustments for all athletes working towards Tokyo 2020.
“They have been preparing for four years for this moment. And if you look at them, many were in really good form. Be it the Indian shooters, Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Kumar (Dhaiya) and others. But now with postponement for over a year, for an individual athlete, it means that everyone has to start from scratch.
“Your current form, fitness, momentum, confidence, everything is thrown out of the window... There are so many variables in sports that many things will change between now and when the Games happen.”
A level-playing field
Viren Rasquinha also believed that the coming days will test the resolve of India’s elite as to how they can adapt to the ever-changing world.
“The essence of elite sport is to adapt to tough conditions, to adapt to a dynamic changing world. The champion athletes, the champion teams find a way to overcome challenges. They find a way to overcome tough times. I think for every top athlete across the world, they have to find a way to adapt to these changing times,” he said.
“It's tough. It requires a lot of recalibration of plans and focus. But it's a level-playing field for everyone.
“It's the same for every athlete across the world,” he pointed out.