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March 22, 2020

Virus hits athletes hard: Saadi

Sports

March 22, 2020

KARACHI: The issue of deadly Covid-19 has also hit the global sports hard. And the lockdown in various countries has adversely affected training of those athletes who are either battling for Olympics seats or have qualified but are preparing for the world’s most prestigious extravaganza whose fate is also not yet known. Pakistan’s seasoned karateka Saadi Abbas on Saturday said the situation was very uncomfortable for the athletes.

“Yes it has hit the athletes hard,” Saadi told The News from Dubai. “The qualification rounds have been cancelled. Our three rounds were hit by the coronavirus crisis,” Saadi said. “The first top list has been issued by the World Karate Federation. Let’s see in the second phase I can get a chance. The third phase is the world qualifying round which was scheduled to be held in Paris in May but that was also delayed for one month and would be conducted from June 19-21,” he said.

“And that is also uncertain as Paris has been locked down, all European countries have been hit hard, America is also suffering,” Saadi added.

“It is not yet known whether Olympics will be held or not. Athletes for sure have been badly affected. I used to undergo training twice in a day; now it is difficult to do so as all gyms here in Dubai are closed. I go to Corniche where I run for eight kilometres and do some sprints and work little bit on techniques. Full training is not possible because of the issue,” Saadi said.

Saadi is one of Pakistan’s Olympic prospects. The two-time Commonwealth Karate Championships gold medalist and the US Open title holder and Asian champion plays in -75kg. Saadi will create history if he qualified for Tokyo 2020.

Five players of Pakistan in various disciplines have already qualified for the Tokyo 2020.

Saadi and Japan-based judoka Shah Hussain are expected to become part of Pakistan’s Olympics contingent.

Olympian Shah has already achieved the continental quota but he will have to maintain Asia’s top spot until the end of qualifiers which have been postponed by the International Judo Federation (IJF) because of the issue.