The Papua New Guinea flag flies at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

Papua New Guinea's Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tamzin Wardley, has encouraged athletes to maintain their focus on the Olympics despite the event being postponed until 2021.

Wardley has told Olympic hopefuls that "we all need to continue our preparations for the Games."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 announced on Monday (March 30) that the new date for the Opening Ceremony is July 23 in 2021.

The President of the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee (PNGOC), Sir John Dawanincura, had called postponement "the right thing to do to ensure that this global pandemic does not cause unnecessary pain" and thanked the IOC for reaching that conclusion.

Papua New Guinea already has quota places assured in two sailing classes - men's laser and women's laser radial - but the qualification process for many other sports has been disrupted by postponements stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The PNGOC, Wardley insists, "is continuing with our preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games. 

"This also includes our athletes continuing their training the best they can while accommodating for the current environment and restrictions being faced."

Weightlifter Dika Toua is hoping to compete at her fifth Olympics next year ©Getty Images
Weightlifter Dika Toua is hoping to compete at her fifth Olympics next year ©Getty Images

Wardley sympathises with athletes, admitting postponement was "very hard for those athletes who have been maintaining their peak condition throughout this process", and says the PNGOC will do all it can to work with Olympic hopefuls to try and get them to Japan in 2021.

"We still have a number of our top athletes in overseas countries, away from their families, in these terrible times," Wardley added.

"The PNGOC will continue to work to ensure their wellbeing and to keep them informed once further information is available to us from the IOC.

"These are unique times but as the IOC President has said, the Olympic Games provide light at the end of this dark tunnel.

"Let's work together in true Olympic spirit."