Postponing the Olympics is the fairest scenario, say athletes
Health and safety come first, say Singapore's Olympic-bound athletes
In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, an Olympic Games postponement is the scenario that most athletes would want.
That's the common refrain from Singapore's Olympic-bound athletes that The New Paper spoke to.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said after an emergency meeting on Sunday that it is stepping up its "scenario planning" for Tokyo 2020 - including a possible postponement - as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
After insisting for weeks that the Games will go ahead as scheduled from July 24 to Aug 9 , Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday for the first time that the Games may need to be pushed back if they cannot be held in their "complete form".
Singapore's sailors Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low, who booked their spot last year, told The New Paper that would probably be the fairest scenario for most athletes.
The pair, who are the reigning Asian Games champions in the 49erFX class, said in a joint statement: "With the current situation of Covid-19 throughout the whole world, health and safety come first.
"With that in mind, postponing the Games will probably be the fairest scenario for most countries."
The duo are currently self-isolating at home for 14 days, after cutting short their training stint in Portugal last week.
Lim, 23, and Low, 28, revealed that their overall training plan had changed quite drastically due to the worsening situation in Europe.
They added: "With the European circuit cancelled or postponed and the uncertainty of the Olympic Games, the whole dynamics of preparing for the Olympics have changed.
"For now, we have to revert to training in Singapore, which does not offer the best sailing conditions.
"However, considering the overall situation, we are grateful we can still sail and train."
If the Games were postponed, that would give them more time to prepare and hopefully achieve their goal of a top-10 finish, they added.
"We do not believe the Games will be cancelled and, in the end, this journey towards the Olympic Games cannot be quantified," they said, when asked how much a Games cancellation would have cost them in terms of training hours and money spent.
Paddler Yu Mengyu also hopes that the Games will be pushed back and not cancelled.
The situation has also seriously impacted the preparations of the women's table tennis team, who were bronze medallists at London 2012.
Yu, 30, said the team, who booked their spot earlier this year, have had difficulty finding sparring partners.
"The quadrennial Olympic Games, I believe, is the dream of many athletes," she added.
"For many athletes, it may be their last Olympics. Because of the pandemic, I hope that while ensuring the safety and health of athletes, we can consider extending the timeframe (to stage it) instead of cancelling it."
Gymnast Tan Sze En, 19, who nabbed a spot at the Tokyo Games after her debut at last year's World Championships, told TNP while she will be disappointed if the Games are cancelled, the health of the public comes first.
She said: "People's lives are at stake and if the organisers decide they can't go ahead safely, then as athletes we have to be responsible and respect the decision."
Due to the uncertainty over the Games' timing, she said it was difficult for her to schedule her training to help her peak in a timely fashion.
In a statement yesterday ,the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) said it will "continue to monitor the situation very closely", after the IOC consulted all national Olympic committees last week.
An SNOC spokesman said: "The cancellation of sport events and travel restrictions have affected the athletes who are campaigning for the Olympic Games.
"The affected national sports associations (NSAs) are making adjustments wherever necessary in their training programmes as developments on the Olympic qualification events unfold.
"This is an unprecedented situation for the whole world. We remain in solidarity with our stakeholders, including our athletes, our NSAs, the IOC and the Singapore Government, in their efforts to contain the virus and protect the community.
"We remain guided by the authorities' respective health and travel advisories and will continue to work with our stakeholders on safeguarding the interests of our athletes and officials as they pursue their Olympic aspirations."
Singapore will also be represented by athletes such as reigning Olympic 100m butterfly champion Joseph Schooling, fellow swimmer Quah Zheng Wen and diver Jonathan Chan.
The Republic have also secured a slot in the women's 10m air rifle, while others such as the fencers and shuttlers are also in line for qualification.