Tokyo Olympics should be postponed, says Sharath Kamal

Social distancing will not be possible at the Olympics as thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village, says the table tennis star.

Sharath Kamal has been in self-quarantine since having returned from Muscat.   -  Biswaranjan Rout (File)

India’s table tennis star Sharath Kamal is in line to play his fourth Olympics in July-August and he hopes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will postpone it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharath, who won his first title in 10 years when he won the ITTF Oman Open last week, is in self-quarantine after having returned from Muscat in the wee hours of Monday. With the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) suspending all events until the end of April, next month’s Asian Olympic Qualifying event in Bangkok has also been postponed indefinitely.

“As an athlete, I obviously want the Olympics to happen but it should not happen. The epicentre of the virus will keep changing; first it was China, now it is Italy and Iran, too, is badly affected in Asia. I don’t see the scenario being safe for the Olympics to start on time,” the 37-year-old told PTI.

“Everyone is talking about social distancing but it is one thing which won’t be possible at the Olympics. Thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village,” he said.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not yet taken a call on the Summer Games. IOC president Thomas Bach said earlier this week it would be “premature” to do so. More than 11,000 have succumbed to the virus worldwide.

Sharath and compatriot G. Sathiyan are well-placed to qualify on the basis of their rankings - Sharath is ranked 38th and Sathiyan 31st - even if the qualification events don’t take place due to the pandemic. “There are no events happening at the moment so no change in the rankings. If things stay the way they are, we should qualify with our rankings,” Sharath added.

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