Disappointed, but postponement the right call, say Indian medal hopefuls 

Indian Olympic athletes want to ensure the world comes out of the pandemic soon, can talk about the Games later.

By Naveen Peter ·

Though a bit disappointed, Indian athletes have come to terms with the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics to a further date owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One of India’s medal hopes at the Tokyo Games, Vinesh Phogat was eagerly looking forward to the Games in July-August.

After all, the last time the Indian wrestler took the mat at the Olympics, she had to be stretchered out after dislocating her knee. But she understands that the call was the need of the hour.

“We have been preparing for the past year and were peaking just in time for the Games. It'll be difficult from that point of view. But it's a difficult situation that the world is going through. And I think that needs to take precedence,” she told the Olympic Channel.

With the IOC stating that 53 per cent of the Olympic quotas were yet to be awarded, the coming months would have seen aspiring Olympians giving their best to make the cut for the Games.

Neeraj Chopra looks forward to extra time

But with the sporting world forced into suspending their events, there was a sense of uncertainty that lingered among the athlete community.

While the postponement of the Olympics might have eased that a bit, Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra believed the decision about the qualifying events should be left to the experts at the IOC and the respective sporting bodies.

“I would say we should look at this positively as it would allow us a year more to plan and train for the Olympics, which is the biggest sporting event for many athletes,” said Neeraj Chopra.

“There will be some impact on preparations over the next few months until the situation is brought under control, but that is something that all athletes are facing equally.

“For now, I'm not thinking about the qualification; there are experts at the IOC and World Athletics who will consider everything before making a decision,” Neeraj Chopra added.

The Olympic year also saw India’s medal hopefuls begin the season on a fine note. While the shooters were coming the season on the back of a successful 2019, the wrestlers were among the medals at the Asian Wrestling Championships.

Bajrang Punia puts health first

However, with the Games being pushed further, it would remain to be seen how the athletes plan their training regime to ensure that they hopefully peak again when the Olympics comes around.

But for wrestler Bajrang Punia, it’s the pandemic that was taking precedence and for a good reason too.

“Yes, the form will be very important and we will have to ensure that we keep up the good work we have done so far and stay injury-free,” he said.

“But first up, we must adhere to the government directive and help fight COVID-19.

“We have to ensure that we come out of this phase soon, and then we can talk about preparations for the Olympics,” he concluded.