IOA unhappy with IOC’s new COVID guidelines for Indians taking part in Tokyo Olympics


Express News Service

CHENNAI:  The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has issued a firmly worded letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) following the Tokyo Olympic Organising Committee’s new rules with respect to quarantine after arriving in Tokyo. After the organisers said that athletes travelling from India, and 10 other countries including the UK, would have to maintain compulsory ‘physical distancing’ after landing in Tokyo for three days, apart from taking everyday Covid tests for a week before departure, the IOA called these new guidelines ‘highly unfair for Indian athletes who have worked hard for five years to be
discriminated against just five days before the Olympics’.

The one big problem the new guidelines has created is chaos and confusion in equal measure. All of these are elite athletes, with food, dietary supplements and training highly regimented. Asking them to stay inside a room for three days could be impractical. Even if the new guidelines doesn’t mention the word
quarantine anywhere, it’s essentially what this is. Athletes cannot hope to avoid competitors or delegates from other countries even if they try to do so. Also, the dining hall as well as training venues is shared by competitors of all nations. Reading through the new rules, the organisers are almost suggesting that athletes from the 11 nations may have to train in the dead of night. It’s a point the IOA stress in the letter (signed by president Narinder Batra and secretary Rajeev Mehta), addressed to Toru Kobayashi, director of NOC relations and services team.


“The arrangement is likely to have an adverse impact on their diet plan,” the letter states. “Where and when will athletes have breakfast, lunch and dinner during these three days, since all athletes from other
countries will be having their meals in the dining hall of the Games Village? If food packets are being delivered, who will plan their proteins/minerals/calories requirements and food preferences etc.

“The other worries are about practice and training, where and when will athletes practice as practice/training areas are never empty.”

The IOA also wants to know why the competitors have to undergo a sort of soft quarantine even after taking seven Covid tests in as many days as well as fully vaccinating their athletes. “We understand and respect host country’s decision to keep their country safe and secure, the athletes going out of India will be double vaccinated, have RTPCR test done every day for seven days before leaving, then why make athletes suffer…”


Could the rules be changed again between now and June 18, the date when the first batch of Indian athletes are expected to fly out? It doesn’t look likely but high-level discussions are on, including with the Ministry of External Affairs.

Another problem has also cropped up with respect to the seven tests. Considering the
IOC/Japan government also stipulate from where Covid-19 tests should be done, there are some fears about exposing the athletes to do these labs for close to a week. Talks now suggest they may look at bringing the labs to the athletes for the duration of the week.

One athlete who has qualified still isn’t sure about the new rules. The athlete in question has already spoken to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) but said “there’s no clarity yet’.


All said and done, there will be a few more chapters in this book before athletes fly out next month. 

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