THE Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to next year but Team Papua New Guinea are encouraged to maintain their focus and continue their preparations for the new date.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced the postponement of this year’s Games to be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but no later than (northern hemisphere) summer 2021”.
The decision was made in the best interest of the athletes and the public in light of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
So far, sailing siblings Teariki and Rose-Lee Numa are PNG’s only athletes who have qualified for the Games. Athletes from other sports are in their respective qualification processes.
PNG Olympic Committee (PNGOC) president Sir John Dawanincura welcomed the IOC advice and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, saying the country remained firm on its efforts to ensure that its athletes would be ready for the new date of the Games.
“It is unfortunate that we cannot have the Olympics this year but this decision is the right thing to do to ensure that this global pandemic does not cause unnecessary pain or take any more lives in the world,” he said in a statement.
“We thank the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee for their vision and concern for the wellbeing and health of the athletes, all involved in the Games and the public.”
PNG chef de mission Tamzin Wardley in her message to PNG’s targeted Olympic sports, stressed that the Olympics had not been cancelled but rescheduled.
“This means we all need to continue our preparations for the Games,” she said. “PNGOC is continuing with our preparations for the Games.
“This also includes our athletes continuing to train the best they can while accommodating for the current environment and restrictions.”
The postponement of the 2020 Olympics means that the qualification process will be affected in some way.
The IOC said it would be working with the international federations of respective sports on a way forward.
Team PNG has already qualified two spots for the Tokyo 2020 Games, both from the sport of Sailing, while other sports were in their respective qualification processes.
“Obviously, this is the right decision for athletes and the organisers, and we understand the scale of the decision and the impact on the host country,” Wardley said.
“It has been exceedingly difficult for athletes to continue the qualification process and this decision will be very hard for those athletes who have been maintaining their peak condition throughout this process.
“We still have a number of our top athletes overseas, away from their families in these terrible times.
“PNGOC will continue to work to ensure their wellbeing and to keep them informed once further information is available to us fromIOC.
“These are unique times but as Bach has said, the Olympics provide light at the end of this dark tunnel. Let’s work together in true Olympic spirit.”