BERLIN, March 24 (Xinhua) -- German athletes and officials have widely approved to decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
It is the first postponement or cancellation of the Olympic Games in peacetime.
Most athletes spoke of great relief after the Games have been moved to 2021 but mentioned new difficulties ahead. "These games would have been like hell for us," Olympic canoe champion Ronald Rauhe commented.
Athletes of all sports were trapped in a constant dilemma. "We were desperate to train every day, but had to consider our responsibility for society and avoid contacting people," Rauhe underlined.
The canoeist said many athletes might have lost the last chance to participate in the Olympic Games. "I intended to retire after the Tokyo games, now I have to think again as another hard year of training would be the result."
Robert Harting called the decision the right step but spoke about "catastrophic effects for many athletes". The 2012 gold medal winner said many "have to restructure their lives now as we gain most of our income is based around the Olympic Games."
Wrestling world champion Frank Staebler announced his decision to continue and face the challenge "as I am used to living with life's adversities".
His Olympic dream hasn't burst but is only postponed, the three-time world champion said. He is ready to delay his planned retirement, the 30-year-old told Xinhua.
The decision might be hard to take after intense preparations, but "is an inevitable step. Let's get started, folks."
Decathlon world champion Niklas Kaul called the postponement "the right decision" and expressed his hopes "we will get the great games we have been dreaming of one year later in 2021."
Kaul admitted to having second thoughts as, "we now have time to work on our weaknesses, what I don't like too much."
Many athletes spoke of valuable security. "All of us can prepare for the games in 2021 now as soon as the temporary disappointment has disappeared," the beach volleyball duo of Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler said.
The Stuttgart-based gymnast Elisabeth Seitz said Olympics in 2020 would have been dangerous. On top, "we couldn't practice in reasonable conditions."
32-year-old gymnast Marcel Nguyen said times of pointless training in the backyard have come to an end.
The parallel bars and all-around silver-medallist of the 2012 games tried unsuccessfully to get permission to use suitable training facilities at the Olympic training center in Stuttgart.
Local health authorities denied his approval due to rising infections and nationwide health regulations.
Like golf professional Martin Kaymer, most athletes said sports have to step aside, considering the challenge the entire international community is facing. "Looking at the overall picture, we have to concentrate on other things than to run the world's biggest sports event," Kaymer emphasized.
Six-time dressage Olympic champion Isabell Werth said the recent days have been very emotional for everyone involved, "but now we can take a break and get things back to normal as best as we can."
Alfons Hoermann said the decision proves the world of sports has joined united efforts to fight the virus crisis. The President of the German Olympic Association said an important step had been taken with the postponement of the 2020 games and shift the world's biggest sports event to 2021.