Hong Kong officials and athletes agree the July opening for the Tokyo Olympics next year is the best possible solution in the current crisis.
"We are happy to see the date (July 23-August 9) has now been confirmed so that the athletes have a clear target to look at," said Olympic committee general secretary Ronnie Wong Man-chiu. "This is a logical decision as the epidemic is still going strong in many parts of the world and therefore the organisers need more lead time for the extravaganza.
"No athlete wants to compete under the fear of coronavirus and we have 16 months left for the Games, which should be enough time for settling the epidemic and making a safe environment for all the participants."
Wong, a swimmer who competed at the Olympic Games in Mexico City (1968) and Munich in 1972, said the next important issue is extending the qualification process.
"Swimming, for example, will normally end its qualification the month before the Games which means our swimmers can still qualify by June 2021, but that will be decided by the world governing body, which will be announced soon," said Wong, who is also the technical committee chairman of open water swimming under Fina.
"Hong Kong still need more swimmers to fill up the two women's freestyle relays, while we also want more individual swimmers to make the A standard for the Games."
Siobhan Haughey and Stephanie Au have qualified in the individual events, along with the two women's freestyle relay teams.
The IOC said in its communique that 57 per cent of the Olympic qualification quota has been filled and will remain unchanged. For the remaining 43 per cent, the IOC will work with the international federations to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualification systems with the Games now being pushed back to 2021.
Table tennis head coach Chan Kong-wah said they never imagined the epidemic would spread like it has across the world.
"When we were at German Open in late January there were only four people who were infected in the whole country, but how many cases for Germany today?" said Chan.
Germany now has nearly 57,300 cases and 455 deaths, with the worldwide figures at 771,120 and 36,944 respectively.
"It will probably take some time before we can get over the epidemic, but we hope it will not be too long.
"We are a bit fortunate as Hong Kong has already qualified in all table tennis events - team, singles and mixed doubles and can have more than a year to prepare for the Games. But as the international federation has stopped table tennis tournaments until June, we have no idea when our players can start playing again.
"Our mixed doubles pair needs some good performances to keep their ranking to maintain a favourable draw for Tokyo," added Chan, who remains at the Sports Institute which has been locked down since last week for epidemic control.
The mixed doubles duo of Wong Chun-ting and Doo Hoi-kem is ranked third in the world after some outstanding performances over the past 12 months.
Badminton player Angus Ng Ka-long is happy to see the new date almost mirrors the original schedule of July 23-August 8. "It is very close to the 2020 Games schedule and therefore the preparation will be very similar," said the world number eight.
The Olympic qualification for badminton is not yet completed with a number of tournaments in March and April being called off. Ng said last week any adaptations to the qualification system should be fair to all players.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli