Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju feels India could clock a double-digit medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics. More than 70 Indian athletes have already qualified for the Tokyo Games, with many sporting disciplines getting their first representations from the country.
While Fouaad Mirza will be representing India for the first time at the Olympics in the last 20 years, Indian fencing will make its Olympic debut through Bhavani Dev.
The government of India has been supporting the athletes in every possible way through the TOP scheme for the Tokyo Olympics. Rijiju feels the ball is now in the athletes’ court to deliver the best at the grandest stage.
“We want to make this Olympics very, very memorable and it is the athletes who will ensure that the Tokyo Olympics becomes one of the most cherished Olympics for India. From the ministry’s end we have tried to provide everything required for Olympic-bound athletes and athletes who are participating in qualifying events. Our priority was to fulfill all the needs of our athletes,” Rijiju was speaking at the webinar to mark the 100-day countdown to the Tokyo Games.
Rijiju also said that India’s medal count at the Olympics must increase. India's best-ever medal haul was in 2012, when the country bagged six medals in London.
“Our share of Olympic medals must increase. India is an emerging nation and this must be reflected in the sporting arena also. We ensured that there are no shortcomings or shortages of any sort for athletes representing India in the Tokyo Olympics,” he added.
Tokyo-bound Indian athletes to be vaccinated soon
With the COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in the country, Rijiju has also asked the Indian athletes to be extra cautious so that they can be in the best possible shape ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Tokyo-bound race walker Priyanka Goswami was the latest to contract the deadly virus on Wednesday.
IOA Secretary General Rajiv Mehta, who was present at the webinar, also intimated about the COVID-19 vaccination for the Indian athletes flying to Tokyo. Wrestler Bajrang Punia has already taken the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We will start the vaccination process soon so that our athletes are safe. A lot is invested in them and we want to be sure that they are safe,” Mehta said.
SAI issues new SOPs in wake of rising COVID-19 cases
Meanwhile, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has issued new SOPs in view of the current COVID situation in the country. This includes regular RT-PCR testing of athletes on a weekly basis to monitor their health.
Any athlete contracting the virus is being immediately moved to hospitals to ensure better treatment and kept in isolation from those who are negative. The SAI centers in Patiala and Bengaluru, where the Olympic-bound Indian athletes are training, have also been color coded so that no one is in physical contact with others.