The Tokyo Games, originally scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, were postponed to 2021 on Tuesday as the world’s biggest sporting spectacle became the latest to fall prey to the coronavirus crisis.
The sport of hockey too has been impacted by the flu-like disease that has killed more than 24,000 people worldwide since emerging in China late last year.
With every country locked down, professional hockey tours have been suspended, wiping out the entire playing season, leaving national hockey federations, coaches and players in doldrums.
Countries which were expected to be in Tokyo for the Olympic hockey tournament, which was due to be held between July 25-Aug. 2, now have free time in their otherwise crammed schedule.
The IOC and Japanese government said in a joint statement that they have agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for one year as the world grapples with the impact of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking on this decision, Head Coach of the Japan Men’s National Hockey team Siegfried Aikman told The Dragflick, that the decision of the postponement of the Olympics has given everyone a clarity as everyone can re-calibrate and work out the best plan around the new dates of the (Tokyo Olympics).
“I strongly believe that this is a ‘right decision’. This what the world wanted,too.” Siegfried said.
As of March 26, Japan has 1,193 confirmed cases, with the death toll at 43, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Coach Siegfried opinionated that it would have been unthinkable for Japan to continue to prepare for an Olympic event and welcome athletes at a time the nation, and the world no less, is enduring great difficulties.
“Japan is organising the games and are ready to do a great job. The world, however is in the grips of Corona and it can be extremely dangerous for Japan to host the games. Japan wants the Olympic Games to be a success for everyone and to do that, postponing was the best solution. I’m proud that Japan, took this courageous and difficult decision at an early stage.” said Siegfried.
Siegfried also expressed sympathy for those affected by the upheaval around the world, including athletes who are unable to train after their countries implemented lock-downs to curb the spread of the disease. He is hopeful that things will get better.
“I hope that the Coronavirus will be under control as soon as possible. Nothing in the world is more important than our health.” he said.
Siegfried said although his players are disappointed, he thinks this extra year will do really good things for the team. He has attested to have a positive mindset and backed the players to make the most of the extra time.
“The team was ofcourse disappointed [hearing the news}.They were getting ready to play and perform at the Olympics in July/August. But they are realistic too. They understand the decision.” he said.
“Every negative decision also has a positive bright side. For us, we will have more time to grow. Positive is also that the Olympic games is postponed and not cancelled. Because of this we all can still live our dream.” Siegfried said.
With the announcement of the postponement of the Olympics, athletes can finally be at peace.
Perhaps it is good that everyone can now rest their bodies and minds until things get back to normal again.
While the Olympics do not offer ranking points or prize money, the Games have always lured top players with glory.