Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has welcomed the postponement of this year’s Olympic Games to 2021 in view of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, saying the IOC’s decision has ensured the well being of Tokyo-bound athletes.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday announced postponement of the Games, scheduled for July-August, because of the pandemic which has brought the world to a standstill.
“I welcome the decision of IOC to postpone #Tokyo2020 in view of the global pandemic. It’s necessary for the well being of athletes from across the world,” Rijiju said in a tweet late on Tuesday.
He also assured the Tokyo-bound Indian athletes of government’s full support to ensure that their preparations are not impacted by the current situation.
India was on Tuesday placed under a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly virus, which has caused close to 19,000 deaths worldwide.
“I urge our athletes not to lose heart. We’ll create better opportunities so that we can have India’s best medal tally in 2021.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly 4 lakh people globally. In India, more than 500 positive cases have been detected so far and the death toll has touched 10.
Earlier, the Indian Olympic Association had also welcomed the IOC’s decision, saying it has relieved the country’s athletes of a stressful build-up during a global health crisis.
The pandemic has forced the cancellation or postponement of almost all sporting events across the world, including the Olympic qualifiers and the much-anticipated European football championships.