Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday that the new deadline for the qualification period for the postponed Tokyo Olympics has been set to June 29, 2021. It further stated that International Federations (IF) of each sport retain full discretion for defining their own respective deadlines and pathways.

The Olympics was originally scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9 this year. However, the fallout from the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic led to the IOC eventually announcing that the Tokyo Games will now be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

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"The new qualification period deadline is June 29, 2021 and IFs can define their own qualification period deadlines should the deadline be prior to this date," said the IOC in a letter addressed to the National Olympic Committees (NOC).

The IOC said that it aims to finalise the qualification systems "by mid-April" with details on specific events to follow when available.

"The priority remains to reflect, where possible, the allocation method/pathway of the original qualification systems for each sport. This principle encourages IFs to follow a like-for-like approach by replacing those lost opportunities that were allocating quota with the same number of events," it said.

Importantly, the IOC said that in case of sports that have age group-based limits, it is willing to extend the criteria in the case of those athletes who had qualified for the 2020 Olympics.

"The only exception will be if the IF establishes that the one-year relaxation of the upper age limit represents a safety and/or medical risk for athletes. Regarding the eligibility criteria for the lower age limit, if any, the IOC recognises the full authority of IFs to assess the eligibility of those athletes who are not eligible in July 2020 but meet the lower age limit in 2021," said the IOC.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has admitted "no one around the world knows" when the football will resume.

In his address to the 72nd Ordinary CONMEBOL Congress from Switzerland, Infantino stressed that no football match is worth a life and health remains the top priority, but that football needs to take its own responsibility to ensure the sport "survives and moves forward" amid the ongoing crisis.

"Football is not the most important thing, health comes first and should remain our priority until this sickness has been defeated," he said. "The world is facing new challenges and we have to stay together and work as a team. This is the lesson that football can give: to work as a team."

"Tomorrow we all would like to see football again, but we don't know when we will be able to resume playing and no one around the world knows when we will be able to play like before," he added.

Sporting activities across the world have come to a grinding halt due to COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed more than 50,000 lives so far.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to eminent Indian sports personalities that included the likes of BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, badminton world champion P.V. Sindhu and chess legend Viswanathan Anand as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that the Prime Minister spoke to them about ways in which there can be more awareness creation and more efforts made to reach every citizen in the country so that the directives issued by the health department is followed by one and all.

"The Prime Minister had an interaction with not just cricketers, but also sports personalities from other fields. The basic idea was to ensure that they can then go ahead and pass on the message of staying safe and staying indoors to the masses. The PM acknowledged the contribution the sportspersons have made in spreading awareness and said that this is a battle that the country has to fight together and no better way than to get sports personalities to reach out to their fans and followers further," the source said.

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The sports personalities have been already doing their bit as they have not only donated funds to help fight the pandemic, but have also spread awareness messages on their social media platforms.