2008 gold medallist Abhinav Bindra believes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was prompt in its action as they took a timely decision to postpone T0kyo 2020 Games by a year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“It is nice to see that the decision was taken quite promptly because there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding whether the Games would happen or not. The athletes can now calm down a little bit and firstly make sure that they stay healthy and people around them stay healthy. That is the most important thing,” Bindra told Olympic Channel.
Bindra, who is India’s lone individual gold medallist, said that the athletes around the world were overwhelmingly in favour of the postponement of the Games, which was duly conveyed to the IOC.
“We had a call with 200 athlete representatives recently. We have been in constant touch with the entire athlete community. It’s nice to see that the welfare of the athletes has taken precedence,” said the 37-year-old.
On Tuesday, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said in a joint statement that the committee’s president Thomas Bach and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed that the Games have to be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.”
This thus makes it the first Olympics to be postponed with the Games being cancelled previously in 1916 due to the First World War and 1940 and 1944 due to the Second World War.
“This is an unprecedented situation. The IOC has always been guided by the principle that the health of all the athletes and of all who are associated with the Games is paramount and had to act responsibly in the containment of the virus. It’s absolutely the right decision that’s been taken,” said Bindra.
According to Bindra, athletes around the world will take the postponement in a sporting way and rejig their plans.
“I believe athletes — not only in India but on the whole — are the most resilient people I know and they will take this challenge in a sporting way and rejig their plans… (there’s) more than enough time to rejig their plans and their training so that they are in top shape going into the Games,” he said.
“But the priority for everybody remains to take care of their health.”
Earlier, IOC President Thomas Bach admitted that an ideal solution may not be available for the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In an address to athletes, Bach however said that this is a chance for the Olympics to be “a celebration of humanity after having overcome this unprecedented crisis of the coronavirus”.
The IOC has been coming under increasing pressure from athletes and federations in the past few weeks due to its adamance that the Games will go forward as planned on July 24. Almost all of the Olympic qualifiers have been either cancelled or postponed over the past two months due to the spread of coronavirus. Bach said that the athletes can be now sure of making their Olympic dream come true. He also said that being able to successfully host the Olympics next year would be a celebration of humanity’s triumph over coronavirus.
“You can be sure that you can make your Olympic dream come true. And imagine what this can mean for all of us. These Olympic games could then finally be a celebration of humanity after having overcome this unprecedented crisis of the coronavirus,” he said.
“It could be a true celebration of the determination we have and the Olympic spirit which unites us all. You would be the main protagonist of this Olympic community celebrating this light at the end of the tunnel for humanity. I cannot promise ideal solutions but I can promise that we do everything to have the best possible games for everybody and first and foremost for you, the athletes.
“I ask you to be flexible, united and give us the information to make all this happen. And then hopefully we will see each other in Tokyo in 2021 to celebrate a successful Olympic games together with all of humanity and look into a brighter future for all of us.”