Hailing International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) move to postpone the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) on Wednesday welcomed the postponement of Tokyo Olympics by a year to 2021, calling it a ‘big relief’ for para-athletes who were in a dilemma over their preparation. IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to the postponement after a telephonic conversation on Tuesday, the pair agreed that it won’t be possible to hold the Olympics this year due to the relentless spread of the Coronavirus pandemic which has claimed close to 19,000 lives globally. Also Read - Badminton | PV Sindhu Needs to Give More Attention to Recovery Between Matches to Win Medal at Tokyo Olympics: Vimal Kumar

“PCI will also now be in a better position of planning the next step once this current lockdown in India in the wake of COVID-19 is finally lifted,” PCI secretary general Gursharan Singh said. Also Read - Tokyo Olympics 2021: Deepika Kumari, Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai in Indian Recurve Archery Squad

President Deepa Malik had earlier said that the “health of the athletes will always be our top priority”. Also Read - Wrestling: Vinesh Phogat Wins Gold, Reclaims Number One Rank; Bajrang Punia Books Final Berth

The decision on Tokyo 2020 was made on Tuesday evening by the IOC Executive Board and Japanese government with the full support of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which was also present at the meeting.

“Postponing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a result of global COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely the right thing to do. The health and well being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sporting event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible,” read a statement from IPC.

Top Indian para-athletes, including World champion javelin thrower Sandeep Chaudhary, too welcomed the decision saying that the health of the athletes is the number one priority.

“Though we have been training for the last four years for this summer’s Games but the recent developments in regard to the COVID-19 outbreak has made it necessary to make a decision like this.

“There are so many athletes who are not able to train at this difficult time, and there should be a fair competition at the biggest Games the Olympics or the Paralympics,” said Chaudhary.

(With Agency Inputs)