Life comes first, sport can wait. This was the collective view of India’s top Olympic-bound athletes, including M.C. Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal, as they lauded the Games’ postponement on Tuesday.
“The situation right now is not good. Life always comes first, everything else can wait. Players’ safety is paramount. Everyone who took this decision factored this in. I think it’s good,” said boxer Mary Kom.
Saina, who was racing against time to qualify for Tokyo, said, “happy that it’s postponed even though some of us haven’t qualified. We are eager to know what the qualification (process) would be like going ahead.”
India’s only individual Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra welcomed the decision and stressed on the need to immediately suspend training camps and guard the athletes in the wake of the pandemic.
Wrestler Bajrang Punia said training had been thrown haywire and the postponement is welcome.
“It’s a good decision because everyone is disturbed. Athletes’ health is paramount. No one is training properly. We first have to save people from this epidemic,” said Punia.
“We were prepared for Olympics. We were ready but what do you do when something like this happens. It’s beyond control,” grappler Ravi Dahiya said.
“Whatever happens, happens for a good reason. Now we have more time to prepare. It’s good for my performance. I will continue training,” said champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu.
Shooter Rahi Sarnobat, who has qualified in the 25m air pistol event, said with her training hampered by a nationwide lockdown, she is feeling relieved.
“…since training had stopped, we would have needed another three-four months time to prepare. So, we wanted postponement. Now we can refresh ourselves and restart the competitions (training),” she said.
Hockey coaches’ view
Indian men’s hockey coach Graham Reid said the team is gutted by the postponement but understands the gravity of the health crisis.
“It is very disappointing that the Olympics will not go ahead, but given the unprecedented circumstances facing the world at present it is totally understandable and expected,” Reid said. The view was shared by women’s team coach, Sjoerd Marijne.