Paes: ‘Tokyo Olympics postponement the right thing to do’

Paes said: “It is a very smart decision by the International Olympic committee and the Japanese Committee. It’s a right thing that they have done.”

Leander Paes had harboured hopes of bidding farewell to the sport after competing in the Tokyo Olympics. He is now undecided after the postponement.   -  R. Ragu

The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to no later than the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, India’s tennis ace, Leander Paes, welcomed the decision, calling it a ‘smart move’.

The Games, scheduled to begin in July, was officially pushed back by a year on Tuesday after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief, Thomas Bach.

Paes, who won a bronze medal in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, believes that it’s the right call. “It is a very smart decision by the International Olympic committee and the Japanese Committee. It’s a right thing that they have done,” Paes told Sportstar.

With the world coming to a standstill due to COVID-19, things were getting challenging for Tokyo to host the Games later this year. With some of the countries threatening to pull out if the event wasn’t postponed, the IOC fast-tracked its decision to postpone the Olympics on Tuesday.

“The global sporting fraternity – comprising both the athletes and the people, who love sports -- was travelling to Japan to celebrate the Olympic movement. The Olympic movement stands for good health and is about the global community coming together. In a hard time like this, where the coronavirus pandemic has touched almost every corner of the world, also in Tokyo, full credit to the Olympic committee for postponing the Games to 2021,” Paes said.

Leander Paes, India's only medal winner in Atlanta Olympic Games 1996, cuts a cake at DLTA Stadium in New Delhi.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES


While a section of the sporting fraternity believes that the IOC should have taken the decision much earlier, Paes admitted that one needs to consider every aspect before taking such a tough call. “It’s a very tough decision to be made, because millions and millions of sporting commerce goes into the Olympics. Be it in building the stadiums, in developing the infrastructure, in getting corporate sponsorship… Given the effort the Olympic movement takes to run the Games, it was a hard decision,” Paes said.

“I thank the IOC, the Japan Olympic Committee and all people concerned, including the Indian Olympic Association, for making sure that all the athletes and sports lovers are looked after in tough times like these,” the 46-year-old said.

Rethink on retirement ?

In December last year, Paes had announced that 2020 will be his farewell year from international tennis, and he wanted to sign off after featuring in the Tokyo Games. Now, with the event postponed till next summer, does he plan to continue for one more year? “My team and I are evaluating,” Paes said, refusing to comment further.

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