Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju has said that the athletes and the support staff bound for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2021 will have special access to the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. He also expressed that he hopes more sporting events will be held in the country as the Olympic qualifications begin.
The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled to be held this year, was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Rijiju expects to send the largest contingent of athletes to represent India at the upcoming mega-event.
The Olympic-bound athletes will be given preference because it is time-bound: Rijiju
Kiren Rijiju spoke to the media at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, which took place following the necessary safety protocols. This was the first sporting event to be held in Delhi following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rijiju said that the athletes bound for the Tokyo Olympics we be the top priority as the preparations for the upcoming mega-event will take place soon.
"Whether it is the Tokyo Olympics or any big event happening, the preference will be given to Olympic-bound athletes as well as the (support) staff because it is time-bound," said Kiren Rijiju.
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed by a year so that the athletes could get enough preparation for the event. India has a chance to secure a handful of medals this time around as many athletes have been training hard during the lockdown.
Rijiju said that he would be working with the health ministry to ensure that the safety and security of top-level athletes and all personnel are not compromised.
“Our athletes will be given preference and we will work it out with the health ministry. We will ensure that all the international participants and organisers are given due importance to ensure their safety and security,” he added.
The Sports Minister also revealed that he has spoken with the national sports federations and the Indian Olympic Association to organize various national and international sporting events in India.
Rijiju expects the Indian contingent to be bigger than ever before, with more than 100 athletes qualifying for the event thus far. He said that he wishes for more sporting events to take place in the country.
"The Olympic qualification matches are going to happen. So, I want more sporting events to take place now, of course, while following all safety measures. I have already told the national sports federations and the IOA to chalk out plans for different national and international events in India."
With the Tokyo Olympics just months away, it will be intriguing to see how the Indian athletes will fare in the various competitions they will take part in to prepare for the mega-event in 2021.