Olympics cancellation right call but 'not major issue' for UAE athletes

With only two judokas qualified for Tokyo, National Olympic Committee chief says delaying a year will be not be a problem for the Emirates

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has thrown the schedules of elite athletes across the world into disarray.

Organisers of the Games have also been going though their own nightmare scenarios as they try to reorganise plans that have now been ripped up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it has had little or no impact on the Emirates, according to Ahmad Al Tayeb, head of sports and technical affairs of the UAE National Olympic Committee (NOC).

“Yes, it certainly will have a big impact on the organisers of the Games, the International Olympic Committee and all those athletes who have been preparing for years,” Al Tayeb said.

“Actually for us, we will not have such consequences because we only have two judokas already qualified for the Games. We may have a few wild cards in a few other sports, but that won’t be an issue.

“We got the maximum wild cards [eight] in Rio and we are hoping we may get the same number, or perhaps, even less for Tokyo. For them, it really doesn’t matter if the Olympics is put off by a year.

“There are a few qualification events still left, if anyone wants to have a try, but realistically we don’t have any athletes who can reach those qualification marks.”

Al Tayeb insisted the NOC would focus more on the smaller events such as the Asian Youth Games slated for November.

“The only question, if any, we would face is the local NOC elections that are held before the Olympics,” Al Tayeb said.

“If a new committee is elected then they will have less time for the Olympics that’s held in 2021.

“The postponement of the Olympics was inevitable after the spread of the coronavirus. It was also the right decision because safety comes first.”

The two UAE judokas already in the Tokyo Games are the Moldovan-born pair Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenco.

They were training in the Czech Republic and were to travel for the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in Russia in mid-March as part of their Tokyo Games preparations.

However, the Grand Slam was cancelled and the two judokas flew to Moldova.

Judo - 2018 Asian Games - Men’s -100kg, Contest for Bronze Medal - JCC Plenary Hall, Jakarta, Indonesia - August 31, 2018 - Sherai Juraev of Uzbekistan in action with Ivan Remarenco of United Arab Emirates. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“They will take an extended break until we reschedule their plan ahead of the Games next year,” said Nasser Al Tamimi, general secretary of the UAE Wrestling and Judo Federation.

“The whole sporting world has come to a standstill. When the IJF [International Judo Federation] decided to call off the Grand Slam and the remaining qualifying competitions, we knew this was coming.

“For us, the postponement of the Games will not have a big impact because both Victor and Ivan have competed at Rio and we are confident they will not feel a big impact in rescheduling their preparation until next year.”