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March 25, 2020

POA chief Arif hails ‘wise decision’

Sports

March 25, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president Lt General (retd) Syed Arif Hasan on Tuesday termed the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone Olympics until next year a wise one.

“I think it’s a wise decision,” Arif told ‘The News’ on Tuesday. “Because of the pandemic everything is disturbed. The athletes training is disturbed. Only 57 percent athletes have so far qualified and remaining qualifying rounds have been postponed. So there were multitudes of problems. Some nations had already said that they will not be able to feature in the Games if they were held this summer. Keeping in view these things in my opinion it’s a wise decision,” Arif said.

Meanwhile, Pakistani athletes also welcomed the decision in the current scenario. “The way the pandemic has wrecked the whole world it’s a good decision to postpone the event,” javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem told ‘The News’ hours after both Japan and IOC agreed to postpone the extravaganza.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a telephonic discussion over the issue on Tuesday with the IOC chief Thomas Bach and both parties agreed to delay the world’s most prestigious spectacle until next year. Japan Prime Minister informed media about the agreement at a press conference following his talks with the IOC chief.

“On the one hand I am happy with the decision but on the other hand I am sad as I was preparing well and had achieved good fitness,” said Arshad, who became a rare Pakistani athlete who qualified for Olympics with a massive throw at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal last year.

However, he was quick to add that at the same time he was happy as he will get more time to prepare. Arshad prepared till last Monday at Lahore before moving to his hometown Mian Channu because of the lockdown in Punjab.

“Now I have more time at my disposal and will reassess and readjust my preparatory plans,” he said. Arshad was also scheduled to train in Finland from May 1 and the development will also affect his trip as Europe is also in complete grip of the virus.

The IOC also informed all the NOCs about the development hours after its communication with the Shinzo Abe. Pakistan’s karateka Saadi Abbas also termed the decision a good one.

“As an athlete yes it’s a good decision. Those who have qualified for Olympics may have been disturbed by the decision as they will have to wait too long and may face injuries. But for me it’s good as I got more time for preparation for qualifiers. It would be seen how our remaining qualifiers are scheduled,” Saadi told ‘The News’ from Dubai.

Japan-based Olympian judoka Shah Hussain said health was more important than anything else. “Health is more important and the decision of postponement was more likely and its good as in these circumstances training of athletes was highly affected due to lockdown around the world,” Shah said.

Five Pakistani athletes have so far qualified for Olympics. They include three shooters Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, Gulfam Joseph and Khalil Akhtar, javelin thrower Arshad and Australian-based horse-rider Usman Khan.

Shah Hussain has already achieved continental quota but will have to maintain it until the end of the qualifiers. In boxing, weightlifting and wrestling Pakistani players will try their luck in respective qualifiers.