His dream of a record-extending appearance at Olympics delayed by a year, veteran tennis player Leander Paes is mulling over delaying his retirement to give him one last chance at representing the country at the quadrennial event. Also Read - Tika Utsav Day 1: Over 27 Lakh People Receive Coronavirus Vaccine Jabs Today
On Tuesday, Tokyo Olympics, slated to be held in July this year, were delayed in wake of coronavirus pandemic. Also Read - Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh Have Faulty COVID-19 Measures: Govt
In 2019, Paes had announced 2020 will be his farewell year as a pro tennis player during which he is playing select few tournaments. Having won a bronze in men’s singles event at the 1996 Atlanta Games, he has appeared in seven consecutive Olympics from 1992 to 2016, a record for a tennis player. Also Read - PSL 2021 Schedule: Despite COVID-19 Surge, Pakistan Super League to Resume From June 1
“Nobody is ever prepared for a situation like this and it is indeed very tough on athletes,” Paes told The Times of India. “Preparing for Olympics takes lots of hard work and then you are suddenly forced to deal with something like this pandemic you don’t know what to do.”
He added, “My team and I will take a decision once this calamity has passed and I can assure you it won’t be an easy one. My team wants me to go for my record eighth Olympics and so is my father. Personally I would be honoured to represent my country for that one last time, but it’s still soon to tell.”
The 46-year-old though praised International Olympic Association (IOA) for delayed the Games to 2021 terming it a ‘smart decision’.
“It is a very smart decision that the IOA and the Japanese Committee has taken,” he said. “I am sure it was not an easy one. The planning for the Olympics takes years and when it gets postponed it means a huge loss. But right now nothing matters but lives. Not just the athletes but I also feel sorry for the people who had booked their tickets to go to Japan.”
He thanked the authorities for prioritising athletes and sports lovers’ health. “I thank the IOC, the Japan Olympic Committee and all people concerned, including the Indian Olympic Association, for making sure that all the athletes and sports lovers are looked after in tough times like these,” he said.