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Cloud over 2020 Tokyo Olympics as coronavirus hits sporting events globally

IOC president Thomas Bach on Wednesday has stressed it's too early to decide the fate of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

2020 Tokyo olympics | football | Coronavirus

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Commuters walk past the Olympic Rings in Tokyo | AP photo

Amid the (Covid-19) scare, sporting events across the globe have been cancelled or postponed. This has impacted the preparations of many athletes who want to compete in Even the fate of Tokyo Olympics appears to be in limbo with many athletes publicly criticising the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) stand. The Tokyo Summer Games are scheduled to start from July 24.

"The IOC wants us to keep risking our health, our family's health and public health to train every day? You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months," Greek’s Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi tweeted.

However, IOC president Thomas Bach on Wednesday has stressed it's too early to decide the fate of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games amid the ongoing pandemic.

In a teleconference with representatives of athletes, Bach explained that the IOC will not insist on holding the Games out of economic concerns, which could be dealt by IOC's risk management and insurance. At present, the organisation is cosely collaborating with concerned authorities, including the World Health Organization, to evaluate if the situation is suitable for hosting the Games.

Indians in Tokyo Olympics

Before the pandemic halted sporting events across the globe, as many as 64 athletes had already qualified for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. These athletes represent a range of sports including shooting, hockey, wrestling, archery, and In athletics, Irfan Kolothum Thodi (men's 20km racewalk), Avinash Sable (men's 3000m steeplechase), (men's javelin throw), Bhawna Jat (women's 20km racewalk) and team of Muhammed Anas, VK Vismaya, Jisna Mathew and Tom Nirmal Noah (4*400m mixed relay team) are India's medal hopefuls.

However, many more places are still up for grabs and many big names -- Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Jinson Johnson, Anish Bhanwala, Mirabai Chanu among others -- have not qualified for the Summer Games in Tokyo.

Here is where India's athletes stand in their qualification race across key Olympic sports:


Number of Indian athletes qualified: 9 including Neeraj Chopra

Potential number of Olympic quotas remaining: 141

Big names yet to qualify: Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Jinson Johnson, Muhammed Anas


Number of athletes qualified: 9 including MC Mary Kom, Amit Panghal, Vikas Krishan, Manish Kaushik, Lovlina Borgohain

Number of athletes who remain to be qualified: 4 (men's 57kg, 81kg, 91kg and women's 57kg)

Big names yet to qualify: Sonia Lather, Kavinder Bisht


Number of athletes qualified: 4 including Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat

Number of athletes who remain to be qualified: 14 (3 men's freestyle categories, 6 Greco-Roman categories, 5 women's freestyle events)

Big names yet to qualify: Sushil Kumar, Sakshi Malik, Pooja Dhanda and Divya Kakran


Number of athletes India has qualified: NIL

Number of athletes India could potentially qualify: 2 (owing to penalties for past dope tests)

Big names yet to qualify: Mirabai Chanu and Jeremy Lalrinnunga


Number of shooters qualified: 15

Number of athletes who potentially could be qualified: 4 (one each in men's 25m pistol, men's trap, women's trap and women's skeet)

Big names yet to earn a qualifying quota: Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Anish Bhanwala

As the IOC attempts to keep the 2020 Olympics on schedule, many of the events that determine who would compete in Tokyo have been postponed or canceled.

Here is the status of US or world qualifying in many of the Olympic disciplines:


The US Olympic track and field trials are still scheduled for June 19-28 in Eugene, Oregon. Other countries use a variety of methods, including trials, world rankings, and appointment based on results.


Men: Eight teams, including the United States, have already qualified. The remaining spots in the 12-nation field will be determined in four winner-take-all, six-team tournaments scheduled from June 23-28 in Serbia, Canada, Croatia and Lithuania.

Women: The 12-team field was filled in February with four tournaments. Although defending world champion United States and the host Japanese were already guaranteed spots, both finished in position to qualify anyway. 3x3: FIBA has postponed the qualifying tournament scheduled for March 18-22 in India. A second qualifying tournament scheduled for April in Hungary is in limbo. Four women's teams and four men's teams have already qualified for the eight-country fields.


Two of the four regional Olympic qualification tournaments already have taken place, but the third for European fighters in London was suspended on Monday after the third day of its 11-day schedule. The Americas qualifier scheduled for March 26 in Buenos Aires also won't take place, nor will the last-chance World Olympic Qualifying Tournament scheduled for May 13 in Paris. The IOC Task Force is still working on a plan for replacing the qualification events, but it intends to award the remaining Olympic spots in May and June.

Field Hockey

Tournaments to fill the 12-team men's and women's fields were completed in 2019. Ten countries qualified for both: Australia, Argentina, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain.


Sixty golfers are determined by the world rankings, two per country with a maximum of four if they are among the top 15. The PGA Tour and European Tour, which offer the most ranking points, have canceled or postponed all events at least through April 12.


The team fields for both men's and women's gymnastics were set at last year's world championships. The remaining individual all-around and single apparatus spots are determined at World Cup events. The International Gymnastics Federation has cancelled an all-around World Cup event in Germany and postponed an apparatus World Cup event in Qatar from March until early June.


The International Judo Federation has canceled all Olympic qualifiers through April 30, including a Grand Slam and two Grand Prix. Another Grand Prix last weekend, in Morocco, was cancelled earlier. Qualifying ends on May 25.


World Rowing has cancelled a European Olympic qualifying regatta that was scheduled for April 27-29 in Varese, Italy, and relocation is being considered. US Rowing said Olympic trials in Sarasota, Florida, from March 16-21 and April 13-18 have been postponed and the organization will not hold a national team event for at least 30 days.


Men: Fourteen of 16 teams have already qualified. The tournament to produce the two teams from the North and Central American and Caribbean region was scheduled for March 20 to April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico, but was indefinitely postponed.

Women: Ten of 12 teams have already qualified, including the reigning World Cup champion United States. China and South Korea were scheduled to play in a two-legged playoff that has been pushed back to early June. Cameroon is set to play Chile in a two-legged playoff in early April but no announcement on those matches has been made.


Most Olympic berths will be determined at national trials. The US meet is scheduled for Omaha, Nebraska, on June 21-28; Australia's is scheduled for June 14-19 in Adelaide; Japan's national championship is in Tokyo on April 1-8. The final two events on the TYR Pro Swim Series, a big part of pre-Olympic training, are scheduled for April 16-19 in Mission Viejo, California, and May 6-9 in Indianapolis.

Table Tennis

The US already wrapped up qualifying, with three men and three women earning spots in Tokyo. Qualifying elsewhere was still in progress and scheduled to continue through May. But the International Table Tennis Federation suspended all activities until the end of April and recommended that continental associations follow that decision. An emergency meeting of the ITTF executive committee is scheduled for Monday.


The International Tennis Federation says Olympic eligibility still will be based on the WTA and ATP rankings of June 8, even though more than a month of the tours' schedules in March and April have been scrapped. Requirements related to minimum participation in Fed Cup or Davis Cup remain in place as does an appeal process for players who do not meet those standards.


Spots are decided by the world ranking. The continental championships next month were meant to be the last gold-level events offering extra qualifying points. However, the European, Asian and African championships have all been postponed along with another gold-level event, junior worlds.


The US trials that had been scheduled for April 4-5 in State College, Pennsylvania, have been postponed. The Pan American qualifier has been held. African/Oceania, European, Asian and World qualifiers have been postponed.

First Published: Thu, March 19 2020. 13:37 IST