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Tokyo will now have to wait for an extra year for the Olympic Games to begin. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: The Olympics community of Asia backed the decision of International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games until next year and felt it was “a necessity” in the wake of the uncertainty around the world due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Husain Al Musallam, Director General of Olympic Council of Asia, said in a statement: “The health and well being of athletes and all Olympic stakeholders must be the top priority. The IOC, along with Japanese authorities, have tried to delay this decision as long as possible in the hope that the situation might improve in the coming weeks and months but, sadly, this has not been the case. Now is the time for the Olympic sports movement around the world to show unity and solidarity and to work as one team in preparing for a brighter future.”

It was exactly a week back when on a day the Uefa had announced the postponement of the Euro 2020 by a year, the Tokyo organising committee still felt there were no reasons for them to take a “drastic decision” about the Games, which were originally scheduled to be held from July 24-August 9. The threat of pullouts of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and eventually Olympic superpowers US on Monday proved have been the influencing factor as the IOC had earlier set themselves a four-week deadline for the decision.

We know Japan will recover from this setback and put on an even greater show to mark the coming together of humanity after finally defeating this virus

- Husain Al Musallam, Olympic Council of Asia

Speaking from the Kuwait headquarters of OCA, Al Musllam said: “At this time, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Organising Committee of Tokyo 2020 for all the work, planning and preparation they have put in over a number of years – only for this completely unforeseen pandemic to intervene and change the course of Olympic history. We know Japan will recover from this setback and put on an even greater show to mark the coming together of humanity after finally defeating this virus.

“We would also like to send our gratitude and appreciation to the athletes of Asia for all their efforts in qualifying – or attempting to qualify – for the Olympic Games. Although you must be disappointed at this time, the dream is not over. The Olympic Games will come back stronger and with even more passion – and so will you. The OCA has always championed the interests of the athletes and it did its best to ensure that the preparations of the Asian Athletes were not affected,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hockey India - one of the few disciplines where India had been pursuing training for both men and women’s teams - said they will get over the initial disappointment and work to set up a new roadmap. “We have informed the chief coaches about the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Of course there is a sense of disappointment but the COVID-19 situation is unprecedented and has impacted the entire world. We will, however, continue our pursuit along with the Indian Olympic Association, Ministry, Youth Affairs & Sports and Sports Authority of India to achieve success at the Olympic Games and our goals remain unchanged. We will do everything in our capacity to offer the best competition and training opportunities for both our teams in the lead up to the Olympic Games,” said Mohammad Mushtaq Ahmad, Hockey India President.