Vietnam athletics still has a chance as Olympic qualification date changed hinh anh 1Runner Nguyen Thi Huyen needs more effort to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam still has opportunities to earn Olympic berths after World Athletics (IAAF) changed the qualification deadline.

The IAAF has announced that the qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is suspended effective from April 6 until November 30, 2020.

During this period, results achieved at any competition will not be considered for Tokyo Games’ entry standards or world rankings.

IAAF also said the qualification period resumes on December 1 and continues to the new qualification deadline in 2021 set by the International Olympic Committee.

All changes are due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the postponement of many tournaments since March.

IAAF leaders believed that the suspension would help athletes have more time for planning and preparation for their performance. And it is the best way to address fairness for athletes all over the world.

According to Nguyen Manh Hung, general secretary of the Vietnam Athletics Federation, Vietnamese athletes would definitely enjoy their opportunities.

To date, Vietnam have earned five Olympic slots but none of those are for athletics.

There are two main reasons for the failure.

The first one was the delay of tournaments due to the coronavirus, so athletes had no chance to compete. The second one is the higher standards that IAAF applied for the Tokyo Games, which according to Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic walker Nguyen Thanh Ngung was extremely difficult because that were close to last Games’ top three in most of events.

General Secretary Hung agreed with Ngung, saying: “It is not easy for Vietnamese athletes as the standards are high but there are still hopes in several events."

Hùng said currently the national best points are women’s 400m, 400m hurdle and 400m mixed relay.

2016 Olympian Nguyen Thi Huyen is expected to make her second Olympics.

Huyen won two gold medals at the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December in the Philippines.

She ran 52.8sec in the 400m while the Olympic qualifying time is 51.35sec, while in the 400m hurdle, she ran 56.90sec while the standard is 55.40sec.

However, the results were made when she had just returned from maternity leave. The 26-year-old is expected to get higher results as she has months to practise.

The mixed relay team also won SEA Games gold and set a tournament’s record is another hope.

With a result of 3min 19.5sec they are 17th in the world while the world's top 16 teams will qualify for Tokyo. Japan are currently 16th with a time of 3min 18.77sec.

“The team are working hard and they definitely could improve their result. However, when Vietnam try harder, other teams also work harder. Teams who are above us would do best to keep their places while those who rank below us also want to advance into top 16,” said national coach Vu Ngoc Loi.

“Olympics is a tough competition. Winning a berth there is also a big challenge which requires great effort and determination of athletes. We must save even a very tiny chance,” he said.

“To make the target, we have to build plans and prepare very carefully for that. Apart from physique, our athletes must take part in as many international events as possible to secure their berths or collect enough points for qualification.”

Head of the Vietnam Sports Administration Vuong Bich Thang said despite difficulties the administration would give best conditions for athletes to achieve their targets.

If Vietnam fail to secure an official berth, they could still join the event with two wildcards.

At the two previous Games, Vietnam had two athletics representatives each./.