Indian Olympic Association president Dr Narinder Batra has said that more than 100 Indian athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2021 and that more will follow suit in the coming weeks.
In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda’s Indranil Basu, the seasoned administrator said the Indian contingent at the Olympics would consist of nearly 200 people.
“So far 101 athletes have qualified and we will have more making the cut soon as and when the qualification tournaments take place. From what I can understand, we will have around 125 to 135 athletes making the cut and with around 65 support staff and officials accompanying them, our contingent will be around 190 to 200 people,” Narinder Batra said.
He effused confidence and dismissed any talk of the athletes being apprehensive about the raging coronavirus pandemic.
“I haven’t heard anything of that sort (on Indian athletes being scared to travel to Tokyo) from the Indian camp. From what I understand, everyone is eager to participate in the Tokyo Olympics 2021. There will not be a single incident from India where an athlete is in doubt of traveling for the Games,” Narinder Batra explained.
Watch: Dr Narinder Batra in conversation with Sportskeeda's Indranil Basu
No bio-bubbles and minimum restrictions
In what should come as a huge relief to officials and athletes, Narinder Batra confirmed that there would be no concept of a bio-bubble at the Olympics.
“In the Olympics, there is no question of quarantine or a bubble. All athletes are already a part of bio bubbles wherever they are training – be it in Patiala, Sonepat, Lucknow or even in Bengaluru. All of them are subjected to weekly Covid-19 RT-PCR tests and anyone who gets in touch with the players, like logistics staff, catering staff etc, are also undergoing RT-PCR every week. We are making sure all athletes are safe,” he said.
He, however, added that players will have some restrictions on their movement during their time at the Olympics.
“The playbook has all the information on any restrictions for all sportsmen and officials in the Games Village. The rules are constantly updated and the final draft will be ready in the second half of June. There will be some restrictions like moving only from the Games Village to the stadiums and back. There will be daily Covid-19 tests and all these tests are for the safety of everyone,” Narinder Batra explained.
He said the administration is looking at all possibilities to ensure safe travel to Tokyo.
“It depends on how and when all teams and individuals will travel. Not all athletes are not going from India, like, for example, the shooting team will fly from Croatia while the wrestling team departs from Turkey. The weightlifting squad is already in the USA and will travel from there while the sailing team is in Europe. We are looking at arranging a chartered or commercial flight for our athletes traveling from India. We are in talks with airlines like Vistara and Air India. We will make sure all outside contact is eliminated for our sportsmen and they are safe,” Narinder Batra added.
Two Indian flag bearers for the first time, says Narinder Batra
The administrator also said that history would be created at the Olympic Games this year, as India will have two flag bearers.
“In our bid to provide equal respect to both genders, we will have two athletes – one male and one female – carrying the National Flag during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics 2021. This will be the first time two athletes will be the flag bearers. Once the final Indian Olympic contingent is ready by June, we will know who the two flag bearers are,” he concluded.