The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday welcomed the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"IOA welcomes the decision of IOC. Discussions were held by IOC with organisers and all stakeholders prior to this. Soon after the lockdown is over, IOA would be holding meetings with athletes, federations, sponsors, etc. to revise plans. This decision today relieves our athletes of having to train now during the epidemic and perform their best in four months from now," the IOA said in an official statement.
The IOA said it will have a meeting with the national sports federations (NSFs) soon to chalk out a revised plan.
"We have requested IOC and Tokyo 2020 (organisers) for more specifics on the revised schedule and scope of operations. All related communication will be shared with you as soon as we can," IOA Secretary General Rajiv Mehta wrote in an e-mail to the NSFs.
"Please excuse the delay as many specifics are yet to be known. Thereafter, meetings would also be held with the federations," he added.
Mehta urged all the NSFs to give utmost priority to the safety of athletes.
"Please ensure all precautionary measures are taken to stay positive and safe."
The chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent B P Baishya said the IOA will have to abide by the decision of the IOC.
"Health of athletes is first priority. IOA is a member of IOC and we have to follow what IOC decides," he said.
Athletics Federation of India President and World Athletics Council member Adille Sumariwalla said the postponement was a logical decision.
"The IOC must have taken into account the views of several stakeholders, including those of the athletes, and I think it has taken a logical decision," he said.
"It is a tough job for the IOC to take a decision like this, for an event of such a magnitude. As a member of World Athletics Council which had proposed one-year postponement, I support this decision."
The weightlifting federation also welcomed the move as they wait for new guidelines.
It's good, the protection of our athletes and the public is our utmost priority so this was necessary. Now we have to wait for the new guidelines regarding the players training in the camps. Maybe they will also be called back but there's also a curfew so we will have to see. " Sahdev Yadav, IWLF secretary general.
Earlier today, for the first time in the history of the mega global event, the Olympics were postponed by a year.
The decision was confirmed by the IOC after the organising body for the Olympics and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to reschedule the Tokyo Olympics in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olympics were cancelled in the past but were never postponed. In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Games were cancelled because of the World Wars.
The Tokyo Olympics will now take place next year.
The IOC has, however, said that the original name of Tokyo 2020 will remain intact irrespective of the fact that it will take place next year.
"In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community," the IOC said in an official statement.
"The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020," the statement added.
The IOC was under immense pressure to postpone the games as the entire world has been sent in a lockdown due to COVID-19.
The Tokyo Olympic Games were slated to be held from July 24 to August 9, while the Paralympic Games were scheduled to be held from August 25 to September 6.
Nearly 80 Indian athletes have so far qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in seven disciplines -- athletics, archery, boxing, equestrian, hockey, shooting and wrestling. With the ongoing qualification process in sports like badminton and weightlifting, the IOA is expecting the numbers to rise to more than 120.