New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) has welcomed the decision of the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to postpone the Games to 2021, saying that "it is a big relief for athletes who were in a dilemma for their competitive preparation for the Paralympics".
"PCI will also now be in a better position of planning the next step once this current lockdown in India in the wake of Covid-19 is finally lifted. NPC India along with NOC India welcomes the IOC and Tokyo 2020 LOC‘s decision for one year postponement of the Games," Paralympic Committee of India secretary general Gursharan Singh said.
President Deepa Malik has earlier said that "health of the athletes will always be our top priority."
"We, as the apex body of para-sports in India, will abide by the international committee as well as in accordance with our government directives on the situation of COVID-19 in our country."
The decision on Tokyo 2020 was made on Tuesday evening by the IOC Executive Board and Japanese government with the full support of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) who was also present at the IOC Executive Board meeting.
"Postponing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a result of global COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely the right thing to do. The health and well-being of human life must always be our number one priority and staging a sporting event of any kind during this pandemic is simply not possible," read a statement from IPC.
The decision also came in the wake of global call from various sport federations, athletes and organization heads including World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe for the postponement of the Games. While Canada became the first country to pull out of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Australia chiefs had told its athletes to prepare for 2021 Games.
Top Indian para athletes including World champion javelin thrower Sandeep Chaudhary too welcomed the decision saying that the health of the athletes is the number one priority, and this comes before the Games.
"Though we have been training for the last four years for this summer's Games but the recent developments in regard to the Covid-19 outbreak has made it necessary to make a decision like this. There are so many athletes who are not able to train at this difficult time, and there should be a fair competition at the biggest Games – the Olympics or the Paralympics," Chaudhary told Paralympic Committee of India.
Arjuna Awardee Para Badminton star Pramod Bhagat strongly supported the decision saying, "Nothing is more important than the safety and health of athletes and the world community. The 2021 Olympics and Paralympics will be real which would be healthy and fair for everyone."