Tuesday, 23 February 2021
In a couple of days G Sathiyan, along with the Indian table tennis team, will be on board a flight to Doha for the much-awaited Olympic qualifiers. Both World and Asian qualifiers are scheduled one after the other, from March 14, with the players confined to a bio-bubble for six-weeks, including for two Pro tour events preceding the qualifiers.
Sathiyan will not rest easy till he has played the qualifiers—not just because the tournament will be his last chance to book a place for Tokyo, but also because of a fear that the event itself may be cancelled.
In the last week, there’s been a spate of cancellations and postponements of Olympic qualification events across various disciplines. Indian boxers, for example, will not have another opportunity to qualify for Tokyo with the world qualifiers in Paris now cancelled. The international badminton qualification window, scheduled to reopen with the Swiss Open in March, has been hit yet again with organising nations calling for postponement of tournaments due to rising Covid-19 cases.
The situation bears an ominous resemblance to roughly this time last year, when qualification events for the yet-to-be postponed Tokyo Olympics were cancelled one after the other, before the Olympics itself was pushed back by a year.