With continued confusion over whether the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, India’s table tennis player Sharath Kamal, who is in line to play his fourth Olympics, said on Saturday he wants the Games not to happen as scheduled.
“As an athlete, I obviously want the Olympics to happen but it should not happen. The epicentre of the virus will keep changing, first it was China, now it is Italy and Iran too is badly affected in Asia. I don’t see the scenario being safe for the Olympics to start on time,” the 37-year-old told PTI.
“Everyone is talking about social distancing but it is one thing which won’t be possible at the Olympics. Thousands of athletes would be staying in the same village,” he said.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not yet taken a call on pushing back the dates of the 2020 Olympics – scheduled to start in July – even as many other sporting events across the world have been pushed back in light of the prevailing situation. IOC president Thomas Bach said earlier this week it would be premature to take a decision on it now.
Sharath, who won his first title in 10 years when he won the ITTF Oman Open last week, is in self-quarantine ever since he returned from Muscat in the wee hours of Monday.
A Pro Tour title after 10 years. Won the Egypt Open in 2010, and now the Oman Open in 2020. Thank you to everyone for the congratulatory messages! A big thank you to my sponsors #AndroTableTennis, @IndianOilcl, @ttfitweet, @Media_SAI, #SDAT, @lakshyasportsin and @Sports_Dynamix! pic.twitter.com/uTjTziPRSU
— Sharath Kamal (@sharathkamal1) March 16, 2020
With the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) suspending all events until the end of April, next month’s Asian Olympic Qualifying event in Bangkok has also been postponed indefinitely.
Sharath, who is world number 38, and 31st-ranked G Sathiyan, are well placed to qualify on the basis of their rankings even if the qualifications event don’t take place due to the pandemic.
“There are no events happening at the moment so no change in the rankings. If things stay the way they are, we should qualify with our rankings,” he added.
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