Tokyo 2020 restrictions unfair for India, but time to face the situation, come back with glory: IOA chief Batra

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Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is still waiting for some more clarity on the restrictions the Tokyo 2020 organising committee has imposed on those travelling from India, especially the athletes. 

IOA president Narinder Batra said whatever restrictions the organisers have listed out for those travelling from India remain and there would be more clarity during the Chef de Mission meeting on Friday. 

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The good thing is athletes will be allowed to train. But since Indian athletes travelling from home won’t be allowed to train with athletes from other National Olympic Committees (NOCs) Batra said they would not be allowed to play practice matches against other countries. 

“When our athletes reach Tokyo, I always feel that it will be unfair for Indians or other 10 countries’ athletes because while other athletes are playing and practicing, ours will not be doing what they are actually supposed to do,” he said. 

“This is the time when athletes peak and if you are putting them in the backburner for three days, it’s not good. I don’t think this has been done by the organising committee but it’s come from the government of Japan. Because they have their own Covid-19 restrictions and protocols. Our athletes and all of us are mentally prepared for it. We have requested for a three-day early arrival (on July 14; not granted). Team will definitely leave by July 17 because there are medical protocols to follow and we don’t want to miss out on these.” 

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“In any case we were going by July 17. But the main concern right now is where do our athletes get the food and how do they eat the food. That’s the main concern and we are having a discussion on Friday during the Chef de Mission meeting (DRM) and they have said that they would clarify during the meeting. I hope these things get sorted out because athletes need so much quantity of protein or calcium or carbohydrate, we cannot have just food packets served in rooms devoid of all these things.” 

“Minor things have been resolved. So that there is no confusion among people travelling to Tokyo, including the media and officials. We made the deputy Chef de Mission as our Covid liason officer. He is our nodal official. He will keep all the instructions of whatever the medical protocols are.” 

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“I still say this is unfair for the 11 countries, which goes against Olympism where every athlete gets level playing field and these 11 countries are not getting any level-playing field. I am upset but you have to respect the law of the land also. It’s not the time to complain but go out there and face the situation and come back with glory.” 

The IOA chief also dismissed rumours of pressure on them to select support staff. 

“There is no pressure,” he said. 

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“It’s simple support. If there are 30 athletes then the sport gets x number of quota. If say seven/eight wrestlers are going, they know they get an x quota. It is the same with other sports. It works within that system. All things have been sorted out to the satisfaction of each national sports federation (NSF) and to the satisfaction of the athletes. If one or two are left out one can’t help it because there is a limitation of numbers. Everything has happened with the best interest of athletes in mind.” 

Batra also said there is no controversy regarding the selection of NOC guests for Tokyo 2020 either. 

“For every 20 athletes there is one NOC guest and according to this we will get a quota of six guests. They cannot stay in the Games Village. To enter a venue they have to buy tickets. We are dividing these six into two halves. This card can be transferred once. The first lot will go for the first nine days and the next will go for the last nine days. No interaction with athletes. And their hotel expenses are borne by the IOA. This is how it happens and has been happening in the past. And federation forwards the names.”

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