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A banner for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics is seen behind a traffic sign in Tokyo on Monday. - Pix: Reuters
A banner for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics is seen behind a traffic sign in Tokyo on Monday. - Pix: Reuters

FORMER national sprinter Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan and veteran sports administrator Datuk Seri Zolkples Embong believe the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, they feel it’s a no-brainer for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for July 24-Aug 9, to be put off.

According to them, three to four months of preparation will not be enough for athletes to do their best at the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday announced that a decision to possibly postpone the Games will be made within four weeks.

Yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hinted that postponing the Games could be the only option while Canada and Australia have said they will not send their athletes if the Games is not rescheduled.

Dr Jegathesan, best known for winning three gold medals at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games, does not see why the Games should go on as scheduled.

Speaking to Timesport from Melbourne, Australia, Jegathesan said: “It (postponing) might just happen, and it will come as no surprise.

“The WHO (World Health Organisation) has labelled Covid-19 a pandemic. And most countries are already observing partial lockdown while athletes are being forced to train at home.

“The Olympics is not an event where you can achieve success by training for just three to four months. It takes years to peak.

“It’s a once in a lifetime competition for athletes to go out and be the best in the world.

“It’s only fair for the Olympics to be moved to a more suitable date. Postponing it will not come as a surprise and I believe it will be a fair decision.”

Jegathesan, however, did not rule out the fact that many stakeholders will be affected economically, should the Games be put on hold.

“There are some negatives surely. Economically, the damage would be quite substantial.

“The organisers have already spent a lot. Some would have spent their entire life savings on tickets to be at the Olympics.

“But I do not see this going on. As we know the virus has caused a global shutdown. It is expected until the end of March or even April.

“The health and safety of everybody should be paramount right now,” added Jegathesan.

Meanwhile, former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Zolkples echoed Jegathesan’s sentiments by saying the Olympics should be postponed.

Zolkples, when contacted said: “We read every day about how our athletes are training at home without the necessary equipment and apparatus, and we still expect them to go to the Games and perform?

“Take our cyclist Azizulhasni (Awang), for example. He is in top form because he has been preparing for Tokyo since the last Olympics in Rio.

“But given the current situation, he can’t train like he used to. In fact, so many other athletes around the world, who are expected to set world records in Tokyo, are against the Games now.

“It’s just not an option. I am not seeking any publicity by making these statements.”

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