'Unprecedented but unavoidable' - Gopichand, Bindra welcome Tokyo postponement

Coach Pullela Gopichand poses with Saina Nehwal (L) and PV Sindhu (R), the winners of the gold and silver medals, respectively, in women's singles, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.

India's Tokyo probables, coaches and former Olympians have welcomed the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to postpone the 2020 Games from the summer of 2020 to 2021, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach finally took the call, to 'safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community'.

Here's how prominent Indians in the sporting world reacted.

Pullela Gopichand

Chief national badminton coach

"This is an unprecedented scenario. It's beyond sport. This decision was unavoidable. One year is a long enough, good enough time. In these circumstances, it would have been difficult to play anyway. If it were getting postponed by a few weeks or months, recalibrating would have been much tougher. Anybody who has been training to peak this July will be in a position to do so around the same time next year as well. From an athlete's perspective, I don't see a major issue.

We can always look at this decision through the prism of a few athletes and find that it's good for some and not so for some others. Both for the older athletes and for those who are too young right now, it will have a different impact. Younger ones might benefit because this time may allow them to get stronger and for some others, one year might seem like a really long time.

Badminton is far better off than sports which have just the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and Olympics as their primary events. We have the All England Open, World Championships and the Superseries [now known as the BWF World Tour events] that will always keep our players motivated at different points through the year.

I don't know what the qualification path will look like now but we have to take it as it comes. I have been speaking to the players, sharing videos and getting them to train so that when they come back to the academy, they are in good shape and ready to hit the ground running."

Abhinav Bindra

India's only individual Olympic gold medallist

"What the world is facing is an unprecedented situation and I think the IOC is rightly guided by their principle that the health and safety of the athletes, and that of everybody involved, at Tokyo, and being responsible for the containment of the virus, is paramount. That is the guiding principle. This is just the way things have evolved in the last few days -- it is obviously impossible to guarantee that. The decision is absolutely correct and that is also the feedback the IOC athletes commission -- which I am a part of -- has been receiving from athletes across the world.

Of course, for some athletes it is disappointing but I think that the most important thing is the health of everybody involved and this is something that transcends sport. Sport is almost secondary to what the world is going through. Athletes are wonderful ambassadors to the community and this is part and parcel of being socially responsible. These are just not the circumstances where an Olympic Games could be held safely in July and it is absolutely the right decision."

Indian Olympic Association

"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 worries of having to train now during epidemic and perform their best in four months from now."

PV Sindhu

Badminton player, Olympic silver medallist

"It's a very good decision to postpone the Olympics. Of course, we trained hard and waited for four years to compete at the Olympics. Our goal now moves from three months to one year away, but right now our life is the priority."

Neeraj Chopra

Javelin thrower, Asian Games and CWG gold medallist

"I think this was a welcome decision for us athletes in the circumstances and not something that came as a surprise. While we were looking forward to Tokyo 2020, the environment wouldn't have been appropriate for the event to be celebrated the way it should be. We should look at this positively as it would allow us a year more to plan and train for the Olympics, which is the biggest sporting event for many athletes. There will be some impact on preparations over the next few months till the situation is brought under control, but that is something that all athletes are facing equally."

Bajrang Punia

Three-time medalist at the Wrestling World Championships

"I'd said before that if the Olympics are postponed it is good for players. A big disease has taken birth. This is a good decision, because every athlete needs to be safe. Everyone is disturbed right now and no one is training. It's not an Indian issue, the whole world is affected. Everyone is affected. No one is training well. Number one priority is safety."

Sharath Kamal

Three-time Olympian and Table Tennis player, world no. 38 in men's singles

"It's a great decision. Personally, as an athlete, I don't know where it leaves me though. The qualification process is still unclear. Without that, you're lost when it comes to planning, both for what tournaments you want to play and where you want your ranking to be."

Vikas Krishan

Boxer, Asian Games and CWG gold medallist

"At the end of the day, humanity has to trump sport, so I'm happy that the decision was made to postpone the Olympics amid the coronavirus situation. Obviously, the postponement will affect our preparation, but I think the extra time can help me prepare even better for my goal to win an Olympic Gold for India.I think it is important for all athletes to keep their focus and motivation and use this time to do whatever we can in terms of diet, nutrition and training so that hopefully, when the Olympics comes by next year, we will be in an even better condition to win medals for the country."

Jugraj Singh

Former India international, and former assistant coach of the Indian men's hockey team

"I think the Indian team had some great momentum right now, which is why the postponement is a pity. However, according to the situation around the world, I don't think playing would have been ideal anyway.

It applies for all the teams in the world. Somehow, somewhere, this virus and the condition of the whole world would have affected the performance. It's not about the physical effect of this situation alone, but also your mental health as a player. You could be in Tokyo, playing, but you would have at the back of your mind that you have left your families back home. That would have been a huge distraction.

I think this decision is good, because it gives the entire world time to get back to normal. Once this worldwide pandemic is settled down, then the teams can all decide and get their performances back to a good level. I don't think anybody in this team should be concerned about their Olympic hopes -- they are all in peak physical fitness. All of them will be around for at least one more year.

Viren Rasquinha

Former India hockey captain

"Given the gravity of the pandemic, this was inevitable and the right decision. It's been done for the greater good of everyone, because right now, health and safety come first. We were putting the health and safety of athletes and coaches, support staff at risk by not taking this decision. Given the fact that there was initially talk of postponing by three months, we don't know if this whole thing would have been solved by then."

Indian hockey team