The contagious and deadly Coronavirus, which has claimed lives of over 3300 people globally has cast a doubt over the future of Tokyo Olympics 2020, but some Indian athletes believe the Games will go ahead as planned. Also Read - Australia: Coronavirus Cases Rise to 4,800, Death Toll Touches 21
The Tokyo Olympics is a 15-day quadrennial event, currently planned between July 24 and August 9, but with over a 1000 cases of Coronavirus already registered and with no immediate solution in sight, a big question mark hovers over the Games this year. Postponing the event instead of cancelling it altogether is an option, but with four months to go, there has been no official word yet. Also Read - Coronavirus: 56-year-old Man Dies After Testing Positive in Mumbai's Dharavi, BMC Seals Building
Seven Indian shuttlers, including HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma and world no 10 men’s pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, have withdrawn from the prestigious All England Championships, the season’s first World Tour Super 1000 tournament, which starts March 11 in Birmingham. However, fellow shuttler and Rio Olympics silver-medallist PV Sindhu has said that although she would want the Olympics to continue as planned, she and the rest of the athletes will eventually agree with the India Government’s verdict. Also Read - Epicentre of COVID-19 Pandemic, China to Host Asian Youth Games in 2021
“For now, All England Championships hasn’t been cancelled yet, everything is going on well but the coronavirus is spreading very quickly. At the end of the day, I will adhere to government’s decision on what needs to be done,” Sindhu said on the sidelines of the fourth TOISA Awards on Thursday.
“It (coronavirus) has just come out and has become too much now. It’s a bad thing to happen in an Olympic year. Few of the tournaments have been cancelled, so we will have to wait and see what happens
Mentor and coach Pullela Gopichand agreed with Sindhu, saying nothing comes ahead of the well-being and health of the athletes.
“In none of the other Games, Commonwealth, Asian Games or World Championships, we have seen this kind of thing. For us, Olympics comes in 4 years and is a lifetime opportunity. So people prepare, plan and live their dream,” he said. “I think at the end of the day it is very important to understand and recognise the fact that life is important and sport is only a part of life and sometimes in our focus we tend to lose the perspective. If things go well the Olympics will happen but if they don’t, I think the priority is to ensure the safety and health of the citizens.”
Wrestler Bajrang Punia explained the troubles he and fellow wrestler are going through due to the uncertainty regarding the Olympics. The grappler however weighed in saying panicking isn’t the best solution in a situation as delicate as this.
“We are facing difficulties in going out of the country for training. Travel bans have been put in place for many countries which is hampering our preparation. “We are going to Russia for training but some wrestlers are nervous after the Asian Olympic Qualifier was cancelled,” Punia said.
“I haven’t made any changes in my lifestyle. I don’t think people should panic too much. As an athlete, I will continue my preparations without thinking about whether the Olympics will be postponed or not. It’s up to the organisers and IOC to take a call.”
Sanjeev Rajput, who has already booked his Olympic quota and promises to be one of India’s medal prospects in shooting is hopeful of the Games taking place smoothly.
“Preparations are indirectly affected as our main plan was to go to South Korea for the Test event which is going to happen in the same range as the one to be used in the Olympics. But now we will be training for the same Test event in India and I hope the Test event takes place,” he said. “I have hope that it (Olympics) will be held as per schedule, same time, same venue. Still it’s 4-5 months away, we can expect some good news by then that COVID-19 is shrinking.”
Sprinter Dutee Chand reveals her visa has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus and reckons the situation needs to get better before a final call is taken.
“My job is to run, so it is up to the government to decide whether to send me abroad for training or not. My three competitions abroad have been cancelled. I had booked my tickets but didn’t get visa due to coronavirus,” she said. “The virus started from China but now has spread all over the world. So, if the situation remains the same then it will be a threat for all athletes. Olympics is a big event and it cannot be held if 26 or 27 countries decide not to participate.”