Indian Olympic athletes may well have to travel without their personal coaches, technical staff, and physiotherapists to Tokyo after the Olympic organising committee announced they will not allow foreign visitors. The decision could put many Indian athletes who rely on personal trainers in jeopardy.
In previous editions, the support staff and coaches who were not part of the contingent would travel to the host city and stay in rented accommodations. They would then purchase tickets or avail daily passes and visit the athletes in the Games village, training area, or the event venue. But that drill is not likely to happen in the upcoming Olympics.
Athletes such a Bajrang Punia – a medal prospect, have been training under Georgian coach Shako Bentinidis for a long time. It will be a huge blow for the grappler if his coach doesn’t travel to Tokyo. Punia is currently the top-ranked wrestler in the men’s 65kg event.
We will have to be responsible for ourselves, states Rahi Sarnobat
Meanwhile, shooter Rahi Sarnobat feels that athletes have to adapt to the situation and deal with it. The shooter is also a medal prospect in the women’s 25m Air Pistol event, having won the gold medal at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
“We will have to be responsible for ourselves as not all coaches and support staff will be able to travel to Tokyo. We have to remain fit and understand our requirements so we can deal with any situation by ourselves at the Olympics,” said Rahi Sarnobat, as reported by the Indian Express.
In fact, some of the coaches have already informed their pupils to prepare for the situation. The only mode of communication will be through video calls, as during the lockdown days.
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“I do not think I will be able to go and if I manage to go without accreditation, it will not serve any purpose as I will not be able to meet my athlete because of the restrictions,” says a coach who works with a leading medal prospect. I have already told my athlete to start preparing for that situation. In such a scenario, we will revert to video calls like we did during the lockdown.”