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July 24, would have marked the start of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, with a glittering opening ceremony planned at the National Olympic Stadium in Japan’s Shinjuku City.
It was to be attended by around 68,000 spectators and watched by nearly four billion people on TV screens globally. More than 12,000 athletes from 185 national Olympic committees were supposed to have kept sports lovers the world over enthralled for the next 16 days.
No one could have predicted that a pandemic would strike the planet and deeply disrupt human lives. The coronavirus brought global sport to a standstill, resulting in the postponement of the Olympics from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Many Indian athletes, too, have been affected by the Olympics postponement.
TOI spoke to some premier athletes who have already qualified for the Olympics to find out how they have been coping…
MC Mary Kom (Boxing; London Olympic bronze medallist)

Winning the Olympic gold is my priority and a dream. My focus remains the same. It wasn’t easy to accept the fact that the Olympics were postponed. The pandemic was something we couldn’t have anticipated. I have been doing my daily training and workouts.
PV Sindhu (Badminton; Rio Olympic Games silver medallist)

Had everything been the usual, we would have been at the Athletes’ Village by now, competing at the Olympics. It’s a bit sad that the Games got postponed when we had prepared so well. But then I have realised that it’s all about working hard, putting in those hard yards for that one more year to stay ready. It’s important to remain focused and keep on training because when I return to the badminton court, I should be in perfect physical and mental shape. I believe the important part is to stay mentally strong, maintain one’s calm and remain safe. Surely things will be better off soon.

Bajrang Punia (Wrestling; three-time World Championships medallist)

I was disappointed with the postponement but not disheartened. The need of the hour is to develop a vaccine. As an athlete you feel bad because I had shaped up quite well and was both physically and mentally in competition mode. But this one year has given me another chance to work on my weaknesses and skills.
Manpreet Singh (men’s hockey team captain)

It was definitely hard to hear that the Olympics had been postponed but we soon understood that we could use the extra year to our advantage. We have to make sure that we are not stressing too much on the pitch or getting injured.
Anjum Moudgil (Shooting; India No.1 in women’s 50m rifle three positions)

We aren’t certain about the Olympics happening next year as well. But one thing an athlete can do is to control the controllables. It’s about continuing with training, sharpening your skills and working on fitness.
Rani Rampal (women’s hockey team captain)

Our team was moving in the right direction and we were playing at a good standard. However, we have taken the Olympic postponement in our stride and thought about the ways we can become a better side in the next one year. The junior players will have a lot of time on their hands to hone their skills and become much better players before we play our first match in Tokyo. Rushing into hard training straight away will cause more issues. We have to take each day as it comes and work on our game accordingly.

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