Indian shooting ace Abhinav Bindra feels the International Olympic Committee was “prompt” in postponing the Tokyo Games, even as some other top athletes and national associations slammed the IOC for “delaying” the announcement.
In an unprecedented move, the 2020 Tokyo Games was on Tuesday pushed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the world.
The decision was arrived at not before some decorated athletes and British and Canadian Olympic bodies expressed unhappiness at the IOC for delaying a call on the fate of the Games.
However Bindra, India’s lone individual gold medallist in the Olympics, begged to differ and said, “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.
“I think the decision was taken timely. It is a very complicated decision which had to be taken.
“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 was quoted as saying by ‘Olympic Channel’.
Himself a part of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, Bindra said 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 Bindra who shot down a historic 10m air rifle gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“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.”
He said the athlete community the world over will accept the postponement in a sporting way and rejig their plans to prepare themselves for the Olympics.
“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.
“But the priority for everybody remains to take care of their health,” he said.
Bindra said the worst would have been that the athletes were not able to train for a few months and then suddenly the Games would have been there.
“I think that would have been much more unfair because the athletes wouldn’t have had an equal opportunity to train. Also, the qualification process is complicated.
“But now that there’s enough time, once everything calms down – hopefully soon – the athletes can go back to training and plan their year ahead.”
Talking about the complexity of hosting the Games, he said, “To organise an Olympic Games is probably the most complex thing on the planet because it has so many moving parts. It’s a very complicated scenario with several stakeholders involved.
“You have an organising committee involved, you have a government involved. So you have to get all the stakeholders on board before a decision could be taken.
“I think the decision has been taken quite rapidly and in the best interest of everybody involved.”