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March 26, 2020

Olympics delay creates problems for athletes, bodies

Sports

March 26, 2020

KARACHI: The unfortunate postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has also created a huge problem for federations and athletes. The delay of the quadrennial event will force athletes and relevant federations to revise the preparatory plans as the Games would now be held next year following an agreement between host Japan and International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Because of extension in time-frame the athletes will have to be properly looked after. And Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president Major General (retd) Mohammad Akram Sahi said they are properly focussing on javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem. “Yes, we are looking after Arshad properly and he is in safe hands as he is our precious asset,” Sahi told ‘The News’in an interview on Wednesday.

“He was training at Lahore and we sent him to home the other day because of the prevailing situation in the country due to lockdown. The coach has given him training plan and he will keep his light training at home,” said Sahi, also a former international athlete.

Arshad thundered to the Olympics through a huge throw in the 13th South Asian Games held in Nepal last year. “Currently the government’s training centres are also closed. Once the situation will turn better Arshad will resume proper training,” Sahi said.

The AFP had arranged a training tour of Finland for Arshad from May 1 but the same plan also could not be implemented because of the coronavirus issue.“All centres around the world have closed down and sending Arshad to Finland is not possible. Yes as Olympics have been delayed we will see a window for foreign tour close to the Games. Our sponsors are with us and hopefully everything would be fine,” Sahi said.

Following the South Asian Games the AFP sent Arshad and four other athletes to Nanjing, China, in December last year but their training tour was cut short after coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.Besides Olympics the AFP will also prepare Arshad for the Asian Championships and World Championships which are yet to be finalised because of the same issue. “Yes the continental and global event are on our radar and once the schedule is confirmed we will prepare Arshad for those events too,” Sahi said.

Arshad is a rare athlete of Pakistan who has been able to qualify for the Olympics. The 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist and former Under-20 World No3 has been a prolific athlete as he is constantly growing his graph. On Tuesday Arshad seemed both happy and sad when Olympics were postponed. “I am happy as it was inevitable because of the coronavirus issue as human health is more important than anything else. I am sad because I have achieved a perfect shape following some good training. But still I am confident to prepare much better as now I have got more time,” Arshad said.

Besides Arshad a female athlete will also be part of the Pakistan’s contingent in the Olympics through a wild card. As the Games have been postponed the best female athlete of the time near to Olympics will represent the country as per rules.