Teething issues for sailors at airport

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Express News Service

CHENNAI:  It’s not always easy to be the first team from the country to reach any sports venue in a multi-discipline competition. If it is the Tokyo Olympics during a pandemic, with its own strict rules and restrictions, it makes it all the more difficult. 

The Indian sailing team that reached the venue on Tuesday had to wait around eight hours at the Haneda airport after landing. A slight stretch compared to other contingents but they had issues of its own. The contingent, including sailors KC Ganapathy, Varun Thakkar, Nethra Kumanan and Vishnu Saravanan, and two foreign coaches reached Tokyo from different places in Europe on Tuesday.  

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Due to strict protocols in place, at least one testing had to be done at the airport before departing to their hotel. Then there are a couple apps that need to be updated. So it is taking more than usual time for athletes to leave the airport. But for the sailors it took more time. 

It is understood there were a couple issues due to which the team had to spend more time at the airport. The set of sailors — Nethra and Vishnu in the Laser class — and coach, Alexandr Denisiuc, who were training in Malta, did not get their accreditation card that also acts as a visa to enter Japan. The 49er pair of Ganapathy and Varun, however, received their accreditations.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had to request a letter from the Tokyo organisers to allow Nethra, Vishnu and their coach to enter Japan. According to YAI, formalities took longer without the accreditation. The entire team wanted to exit together, so the others waited. 

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Another issue was accommodation. The sailors are not put up at the Games Village but at their venue – Enoshima – a place some 60km south of Tokyo. Initially there was no confirmation of their accommodation but it was sorted out by the IOA. 

The YAI felt there were no major issue and was thankful to the IOA and organising committee for facilitating the letter that allowed them to travel to Tokyo from Frankfurt. According to an official, since they were the first to arrive, there were teething issues but nothing that could not be managed. The laser boats that the Sports Authority of India had purchased for Nethra and Vishnu too were ready at the harbour. The 49ers will use boats provided by the organisers. They will train in the water from Thursday.

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