New Delhi: The Indian women's hockey team were among the first sports contingent from the country to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Their tour of China that was scheduled to take place from March 14 to 25 was cancelled early February.
Their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics revolve around their foreign tours, including the Asian Championships that is scheduled for June but there is a cloud over it as travel restrictions have been imposed across the world to contain the pandemic.
Coach Sjoerd Marijne, however, is not looking to make any drastic changes in his plans in the preparation schedule for the team for now. "As long as the Olympics is going ahead as scheduled, the only thing we have to see is can we have our tours," Marijne told IANS.
"We had tours to Netherlands, Germany, the Asian Champions Trophy in June, we have to see which of these is possible. If it is not then we have to adapt. In sports it is pretty normal to have to adapt to changing situations. Hockey India of course, are doing whatever they can along with SAI. So I don't want to make any different plans. Of course, we have backup plans but we don't need to go for that already."
Marijne said that for now, those in the camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru have to deal with the disappointment that comes with not being able to go home. This week was supposed to be a rest week for them and while some players chose to stay behind, others were informed in the last minute that their flights have been cancelled by the SAI in the wake of the pandemic outbreak.
"This week was supposed to be a rest week for us so right now they can't do the recovery back home but have to stay in camp," he said.
"I try to see the positives in everything and in this case it is that facilities here to do recovery are better than what they would find back home. But they won't be able to rest their minds by going away from this environment and spend time with their families."
It is something that the 45-year-old has had to deal with himself. On March 14, he had tweeted about having to reverse his decision to travel back home to the Netherlands. Two days later, India announced a ban on travellers from member countries of the European Union starting on Wednesday.
"If I did go I wouldn't have been able to come back. We need to go on with the camp so I thought about it and... it is what it is. They are in good health back home, they stay indoors and don't meet other people. That is for me the most important thing, that I know that they are in good health," he said.
Marijne said that he had a meeting with the players on Monday in which he told them that they have to focus on July 24 -- the scheduled starting date for the Tokyo Olympics. "As long as we don't hear anything else, we keep focussing on our programme," he said. "They were very dissapointed that they couldn't go home but they understand the situation which is the most important thing.
"You will be disappointed if you don't see your family for four weeks. They really needed that break. A break is not just physical it is also mental -- seeing your family, away from the environment where they always train. So now we have to deal with these kind of things and it is what it is."
However, Marijne also noted how important it is to keep perspective at times like this. "I can't remember experiencing a situation like this. This is a worldwide thing. As a hockey coach, I have to see everything in perspective. We are a sports team and far worse things are happening in the world and I think that is more important. There are children who can't go to schools but they are away from their parents; if they are medical professionals because they have to work. We have to realise that we are really a small part in all this. You just have to deal with whatever comes your way everyday," he said.