The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Monday urged athletes to stay mentally strong amid the nationwide lockdown and take advantage of the extra time they have got to prepare for the postponed Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympics, originally scheduled for July-August, has been postponed to next year in the wake of the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
AFI's Planning Committee conveyed its message to athletes during an online meeting with the national campers, coaches and support staff.
As most of the elite athletes including the likes of javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, quarter-miler Hima Das, shot putter Tajinder Toor, race walker KT Irfan and India's men 4x400m men and women relay team members are currently training indoors in their rooms at various national camps during lockdown.
The Planning Committee encouraged athletes to maintain their physical fitness and strictly follow their diet charts.
AFI President, Adille J Sumariwalla, told athletes, "We are really glad that all of you are fit and safe at the camps in Patiala, Bengaluru and Ooty. With Olympics 2020 being postponed to 2021 and World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games scheduled to take place in 2022, it will be a tough challenge for you all.
"We have to use this opportunity of delay to our advantage and you have to be mentally prepared for these challenges from today itself. With the changed scenario and back to back major events planned for next two years, we will have to adapt to single phase of competition period."
Sumariwalla said AFI is looking to resume sporting activities from September.
"We will try to resume our domestic competitions from September-October 2020 and for next year from March-April 2021. With the postponement of Olympics, we hope that now many young athletes also stand a chance to qualify for the Olympics 2021 while seniors need to focus on their existing fitness to grab this opportunity.
"At this stage we cannot say anything about any foreign exposure camp later in the year, but for sure, we will plan for international competitions-cum-training camps for 2021. We are monitoring the situation at the camps and when the situation allows, you will be allowed to train outside after the consultation with SAI," he said.
The online meeting was attended by more than 50 athletes and around 30 members of coaching team along with AFI Planning Committee Chairman Lalit K Bhanot, National Chief Coach Bahadur Singh, Deputy Chief Coach Radhakrishnan Nair and AFI High Performance Director Volker Hermann.